New exhibit My America opens November 21 at the American Writers Museum

American Writers Museum Celebrates What it Means to be An Immigrant and Refugee in America Today

The American Writers Museum celebrates refugee and immigrant writers with its newest exhibit called My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, which explores the influence of modern immigrant and refugee writing on our culture, history and daily lives.

My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today will give visitors and students a deeply personal experience, bringing them face-to-face — both through interactive, intimate video conversations and in-person — with contemporary authors who are immigrants and refugees from all over the world. The exhibit, which opens Nov. 21, 2019 and runs through May 2021, is designed to elicit thoughtful dialogue on a wide breadth of issues relating to the modern refugee crisis and the perception of immigrants in our country today.My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today features more than 30 authors who will delve into questions about writing influences, being multilingual, community, family, and what it means to be American. At a time when “immigrant” can be a symbol or slur, shorthand for any of a thousand complicated concepts, these writers explore what it truly means to cross borders.

“The importance of immigrant and refugee writers in the last two decades is illustrated by the level of recognition their works continue to achieve,” said Carey Cranston, president of the American Writers Museum. “The American Writers Museum is honored to present this essential and relevant subject in an experiential way, which lets the writers tell their own unique yet universal stories.”

In anticipation of the new exhibit, National Public Radio correspondent and author Aarti Shahani (Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares)will kick off the Jeanne M. and John W. Rowe Program Series on Oct. 9, which brings immigrant and refugee authors to the museum for a discussion on new works and their experience living in America. The exhibit and related author events will highlight writing in a variety of genres, including memoir, fiction, poetry, travel writing, songwriting, screenwriting and more.

Other authors participating in the discussion series include Diane Guerrero, best known for her roles on Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin and whose new memoir My Family, Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope tells the story of her family’s deportation back to Colombia while she was in high school and the devastation, heartbreak, hope and resilience that ensued, which is reflective of thousands of undocumented families living in the U.S.

David Treuers New York Times Bestseller The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee tells a different narrative of Native American history based on his own upbringing and anthropological education background. Treuer, who published his first book at age 24, is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He attended Princeton University where he worked with Paul Muldoon, Joanna Scott, and Toni Morrison.

Acclaimed speaker Rebecca Deng shares her incredible true story in her first book, What They Meant for Evil, which centers on her experience finding freedom in America after coming from South Sudan as one of the first unaccompanied refugee children to enter the United States in 2000. She became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

Amitav Ghosh, an international bestselling author of the Ibis Trilogy and The Glass Palace, is also part of the exhibit and has grappled with the identity of home. Moving from India to the U.S. and back again, Ghosh describes citizenship of the world, where humanity has not always been the driving force.

“I’m like a turtle,” Ghosh said. “I carry the world on my back.”

Other authors featured in the exhibit include Juan Martinez,Vu TranDipika Mukherjee,Laila HalabyEdwidge DanticatLouie PerezLigiah Villalobosand many more who emigrated from Cuba, Ghana, Japan, China, France, Mexico, Italy, Korea, Nigeria, Russia, Israel, Colombia, Vietnam, Iran, Nigeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today is made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor and other sponsors who are supporting this exhibit and the supporting program series. Learn more about the exhibit at

See more photos here.


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibit do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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