Jhumpa Lahiri

The immigrant novel, 2017: Lisa Ko’s ‘The Leavers’ shines a light on ugly truths

The immigrant novel, 2017: Lisa Ko’s ‘The Leavers’ shines a light on ugly truths

The immigrant novel is a staple of American literature — after all, the American immigrant story is as old as the country itself. Classics like Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and “My Ántonia” by Willa Cather helped define whole eras of our history; first- and second-generation authors, including Sandra Cisneros, Amy Tan, Chang-rae Lee, Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Díaz have given voice to newer immigrant communities, ensuring their inclusion in the landscape of American letters, and by extension, the cultural map of America.

The face of immigration is less white than it once was; the fate of immigrants far less secure. As the conversation around immigration has changed,...

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