The Penguin Book of Migration Literature: Departures, Arrivals, Generations, Returns

Penguin. (Classics). Sept. 2019. 320p. ed. by ed. by Dohra Ahmad. ISBN 9780143133384. pap. $17ebk. ISBN 9780525505167. SOC SCI
This opportune addition to Penguin’s “Classics” series contains more than 30 selections about international migration. Most are personal reflections by migrants themselves or those close to them in various genres—memoir, fiction, poetry. Ahmad (English, St. John’s Univ.) organizes entries into four loosely defined categories—Departures, Arrivals, Generations, and Returns—detailed in a 15-page introduction that familiarizes readers with the anthology’s scope and challenges faced in choosing what to include. While some selections are self-contained, many are taken from longer works and lack accompanying contextual information. Ahmad uses vector arrows to show each contributor’s sometimes complex migration movement; for example, from Ethiopia to Sudan, Italy, the UK and, ultimately, the United States. While almost exclusively limited to the past century of migrations, the work does lead off with part of Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written By Himself from the 18th century.
VERDICT With the exception of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Displaced, no similar recent collection of evocative reflections on the migration experience exists. This will appeal to students and general readers, if only as a starting point for further exploration

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