In honour of Welcome Week, from September 8 to the 17, check out these stories told by immigrant voices.
The beekeeper of Aleppo
Lefteri, Christy, 1980- author
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo - until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.
The bread the devil knead
Allen-Agostini, Lisa, author
Alethea Lopez is about to turn 40. Fashionable, feisty and fiercely independent, she manages a boutique in Port of Spain, but behind closed doors she's covering up bruises from her abusive partner and seeking solace in an affair with her boss. When she witnesses a woman murdered by a jealous lover, the reality of her own future comes a little too close to home. Bringing us her truth in an arresting, unsparing Trinidadian voice, Alethea unravels memories repressed since childhood and begins to understand the person she has become. Her next step is to decide the woman she wants to be.
Crying in H Mart : a memoir
Zauner, Michelle, author
In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond over heaping plates of food. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.
Hotline : a novel
Nasrallah, Dimitri, 1978-, author
It's 1986, and Muna Heddad is in a bind. She and her son have moved to Montreal, leaving behind a civil war filled with bad memories in Lebanon. She had plans to find work as a French teacher, but no one in Quebec trusts her to teach the language. She needs to start making money, and fast. The only work Muna can find is at a weight-loss center as a hotline operator. All day, she takes calls from people responding to ads seen in magazines or on TV. On the phone, she's Mona, and she's quite good at listening. These strangers all have so much to say once someone shows interest in their lives--marriages gone bad, parents dying, isolation, personal inadequacies. Even as her daily life in Canada is filled with invisible barriers at every turn, at the office Muna is privy to her clients' deepest secrets.
The island of missing trees : a novel
Shafak, Elif, 1971-, author
Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. Years later a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited--- her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.
George, Jessica, 1994-, author
It's fair to say that Maddie's life in London is far from rewarding. When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she's ready to experience some important "firsts:" find a flat, say yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it's not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils - and rewards - of putting her heart on the line.
A sky-blue bench
Rahman, Bahram, 1984- author
Young Aria returns to school after recovering from an accident and being fitted with a prosthetic leg, but the school has no furniture and sitting on the floor is too painful. She finds a way to build her own bench, surprising and inspiring her classmates. Includes a sensitive author's note describing the author's experience growing up in Afghanistan during the civil war and the legacy of landmines.
The undocumented Americans
Cornejo Villavicencio, Karla, author
"Traveling across the country, journalist Karla Cornejo Villavicencio risked arrest at every turn to report the extraordinary stories of her fellow undocumented Americans. Her subjects have every reason to be wary around reporters, but Cornejo Villavicencio has unmatched access to their stories. Her work culminates in a stunning, essential read for our times. Born in Ecuador and brought to the United States when she was five years old, Cornejo Villavicencio has lived the American Dream. Raised on her father's deliveryman income, she later became one of the first undocumented students admitted into Harvard. She is now a doctoral candidate at Yale University and has written for The New York Times. She weaves her own story among those of the eleven million undocumented who have been thrust into the national conversation today as never before. Looking well beyond the flashpoints of the border or the activism of the DREAMERS, Cornejo Villavicencio explores the lives of the undocumented as rarely seen in our daily headlines. In New York, we meet the undocumented workers who were recruited in the federally funded Ground Zero cleanup after 9/11. In Miami we enter the hidden botanicas, which offer witchcraft and homeopathy to those whose status blocks them from any other healthcare options. In Flint, Michigan, we witness how many live in fear as the government issues raids at grocery stores and demands identification before offering life-saving clean water. In her book, Undocumented America, Cornejo Villavicencio powerfully reveals the hidden corners of our nation of immigrants. She brings to light remarkable stories of hope and resilience, and through them we come to understand what it truly means to be American"-- Provided by publisher.
A woman is no man
Rum, Etaf, author
Three generations of Palestinian-American women living in Brooklyn are torn between individual desire and the strict mores of Arab culture. It's a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.