Two summer books tell tender tales of immigration and empathy: Review
The New American, by Micheline Aharonian Marcom
It's not one book's job to right another's wrongs, but Marcom's wrenching border-crossing tale arrives as a sort of corrective to the ever-controversial American Dirt. The New American offers its own epic sweep, as Emilio, an undocumented Guatemalan-American college student, gets deported from his Bay Area neighborhood and tries to make the dangerous trek home without alerting his mother.
But it's far richer than the pathologizing best-seller to which comparisons will surely be made. Marcom, born in Saudi Arabia, depicts inhumanity with visceral force, but her bracing empathy (and hope) shines above all. —David Canfield
Love After Love, by Ingrid Persaud
Family — less the biological kind than the ones we find through luck, or fate — lies at the center of this bright, generous debut. When a young Trinidadian widow goes looking for a lodger, she hardly expects her co-worker, the reserved Mr. Chetan, to volunteer. But as he settles in with the woman he still insists on calling "Miss Betty" and her son, Solo, the house becomes a home.
Can it last? Like Nicole Dennis-Benn's Patsy, one of the best books of last summer, Love After Love offers both a window into Caribbean literature and a wider lens on immigration, race, and sexuality. Mostly, though, it's just a great story: funny, tender, and true. —Leah Greenblatt