These 7 Immigrant Authors Are Making American Literature Great Again

By Kevin Nelson

The USA Today officially states that “The number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States stayed steady for an eighth straight year in 2016 with 11.3 million people.” This number of people cannot stay unnoticed.

Immigrants from all over the world are entering the American culture, labor market, and even literature and change their landscape. Despite numerous recent sparks of hatred towards immigrants and xenophobia spread by well-known politicians, immigrants are truly making American literature great again.

Not only they contribute in a variety of ways to a lengthy list of topics, genres, and dilemmas faced in the literature but also bring in their specific and unique perspective. What we believe are the most powerful books written by immigrants? Below is our list of the most influential and remarkable authors that were born outside of the USA.

Remarkable immigrant writers in American literature:

1. Junot Díaz
In his book, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” he explains in short what it feels like to become a man. The book opens the door into the world of an immigrant that does not feel like he belongs anywhere. He feels awkward in a new culture, he does not quite “click” with his family.
Lots of interesting questions are raised by the author in this piece. The book isn’t one of those easy-to-scan reads. Yet, it will keep interested till the last page.

2. Yaa Gyasi
Another great book by a fantastic writer who also happened to be an immigrant to America is called “Homegoing”. It covers uneasy topics of slavery and making of America which are depicted through the life stories of two sisters. One of the became a wife of a slave trader while the other one became a slave herself.
This book definitely gives room to process analysis essay topics, as the author touches so many different sides of the society back then and today!

3. Donia Bijan
Our next choice became Donia Bijan with her amazing “The Last Days of Café Leila”.
This story is about mother-daughter relationships, Islamic Revolution, and family bonds. The main character leaves Iran as a girl to escape from Islamic Revolution only to come back home to her father years later. Now she is a mother herself trying to solve the problem of her mom’s disappearance and of her daughter’s rebellious nature. This truly is a great example of how immigrant authors are enriching the American literature with their fresh perspectives and bold statements.

4. Kazuo Ishiguro
Simply brilliant, a book by this author called “The Remains of the Day” was once characterized with the following words: “A tragic, spiritual portrait of a perfect English butler and his reaction to his fading insular world in post-war England. A wonderful, wonderful book.” The author tried to look at a life of the main character as if from the inside yet giving a clear answer to what an outsider would see in him.

5. Janine Joseph
Her book we will talk about is quite a political one. Yet she never shied away from it. “Driving Without a License” is a poetry book that unlike many other “first books” is rather bold and straightforward. The author describes what it feels like to be raised in an American landscape, so different from what her fatherland is.
The author speaks openly about numerous American issues that citizens face daily without even thinking them over. This talented and gifted young lady was not afraid to speak – and that is why we got an amazing book so close to all of our American daily issues.

6. Aleksandar Hemon
The author has a distinctive style, and as you read his book “The Question of Bruno” you cannot but empathize and laugh. His talent for describing what a lie of a real refugee feels like is incredible.
The read will not be fun, or smooth, or comfortable at any point. This book will grab your attention and will hold it to the very last page. You will have to walk the story along with the main characters and experience the absurdity of life. The author uses plenty of different techniques to keep your attention, so be ready to dive into the read completely.

7. Sarah Ladipo Manyika
Last but not least, we will talk about Sarah Ladipo Manyika and her great new book called “Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun”. We simply could not leave this one out of our list.
This story is about the importance of humanity. A 75-year-old Nigerian that lives in America due to sudden changes in her life has to rely on the kindness of complete strangers. She does not have her own family, and such a turn of events truly humbles her. In the story, the author points out that it is important to be kind and humane, and that these things can truly save our world.

By reading these books, you will see that immigrant authors can really make American literature richer, brighter, and fuller. We do not have a single doubt that new authors will rise soon and take the literature as we know it today to new heights.





Kevin Nelson is a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin & Google+.

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