A collection of essays by first and second-generation immigrants—including Chigozie Obioma, Jenny Zhang, and Alexander Chee—each exploring what it's like to be othered in an increasingly divided America.
... as a reader, I worried that a collection defined by politics could crumble under the weight of good intentions ... Thankfully, this collection is a resounding success on multiple fronts. Its righteous rage is perfectly matched by its literary rewards ... As I finished The Good Immigrant, my mind was buzzing with the multitude of voices, stories, heartbreaks and dreams featured in its 300-plus pages. The book is a welcome corrective to the nationalist calls for walls, borders and exclusion that seek to narrow the boundaries of what it means to be American. Each essay is a tantalizing introduction — and invitation — to the larger body of work these artists have already created and will continue to make long after this moment passes.
The collection contains a number of responses to double consciousness in the form of reconciliation narratives told through the lens of both history and personal reflection. In this regard, the reader is introduced to the value of acknowledged disparity, itself a productive function of a pluralism ... The diversity of perspectives in the collection is matched by the diversity of prose, and some of the essays hit their mark with greater impact than others. It’s worth noting, though, that several of these essays stand out in terms of their style as well as their substance, emphasizing Khakpour’s and Chang’s commentary on the value of writing as a way to process experience ... While the book poses no solutions to such problems, it does add focus and texture to their impact, which is arguably more productive than the way current policies are discussed WWE-style on for-profit cable news networks.
The Good Immigrant is powerful. It is a book that speaks truth to power, that lays bare our assumptions, that interrogates privilege, that encourages compassion, and that celebrates difference while underscoring our similarity. In a world of shrinking American global influence, divisive political rhetoric, and seemingly rising hate, this book is a celebration of a diverse and polyvocal America ... The editors have created a book that speaks to all Americans and that seeks to remind us of what is American’s greatest resource, our diverse voices and perspectives, and our greatest shame, how we treat those that don’t fit into the mainstream ... each author brings such a unique voice and perspective on their experiences of being immigrant, queer, marginalized, or linguistically and culturally disenfranchised that it was hard not to find something in each entry that resonated with me as a reader and that energized me to keep reading. Because of this, The Good Immigrant is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the real modern America better.