“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 Treuer’s 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 Tran, Dipika Mukherjee,Laila Halaby, Edwidge Danticat, Louie Perez, Ligiah 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 AmericanWritersMuseum.org.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibit do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.