The New Year is a time for taking stock, reflecting, and looking ahead. The researchers in the WELLMIG team took stock of our readings in 2018.
As is to be expected, we have been reading—or should we say perusing—plenty of academic books on migration, including books directly related to our project such as “Caring for Strangers” by Megha Amrith, but we have also read novels and poetry involving migration and migrants, often penned by immigrant writers. Below is a selection of our readings. Maybe we can inspire you to pick up some of these titles, too?
Marie Louise Seeberg
“The Sympathizer” by Nguyen Viet Thanh (2016) is a spy novel and a love story, but first and foremost a book about living one’s life between two very different countries and realities.
A very different book but similar in just that one respect, “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing” by Anya von Bremzen (2013) paints a vivid picture of life in the Soviet Union through the lens of food memories. Not Proust, but much more fun to read – and again, conjuring up very different realities that are dependent on one another.
Impossibly complex but a rolling good read all the same is “The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins” by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing (2017). Yes, it’s about mushrooms. It’s also about Hmong refugees in the US, and about Finnish and Japanese forestry. And just about everything else.
“In the Sea There are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari” by Fabio Geda is the devastating and beautifully written account of a young Afghan boy’s journey from his village through several countries and across the sea.
I like graphic novels too – and “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood” by Marjane Satrapi is one of my favourites here. It lets you into the home and life of the author as she grew up in Iran during the years of the Islamic Revolution.
Finally, I’ll include “1947: Where Now Begins” by Elisabeth Åsbrink. This is a month-by-month recount of one year in history and not a particularly famous year at that. The fascinating thing here is that it lists sometimes unremarkable and always apparently unrelated events that are rooted in the preceding years of World War 2 (on which there must be millions of books), and that led to most remarkable events in the following years, such as the foundation of the state of Israel, the creation of the CIA, the invention of the Kalashnikov, and the beginning of the Cold War. All alongside quietly recorded events on the individual scale, in the life of the author’s father, then a 10-year-old refugee.