How to Get Into the Twin Palms, Karolina Waclawiak
In Karolina Waclawiak’s excellent, if slight, debut novel, Anya (not her real name) is a Polish immigrant in LA at odds with her heritage but not quite ready to embrace an American self either. What she really wants is to be Russian — though mostly so she can get into the glamorous-from-far-away Twin Palms, the Russian nightclub in her neighborhood. Clever and sometimes sad, Waclawiak’s book turns the traditional immigrant novel on its head, or maybe turns it inside out, or maybe just dyes its hair a nice shade of “Black Stilettos,” turning its ears black in the process.
Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov
Everything else aside, poor Professor Timofey Pnin is probably our favorite émigré of all time. Bumbling and bewildered, he makes his way unsteadily through his tenure at the fictional Waindell College, beleaguered at every turn by a set of tragicomic difficulties — not least the increasingly scornful narrator of the novel. Nabokov’s excellent storytelling and wordplay aside, as you watch Pnin fighting for respectability, or even a firm grasp on his surroundings, you can’t help but fall in love with him.
Call It Sleep, Henry Roth
Well, it’s right there on the cover. As Lis Harris said, this underrated classic is ”arguably the most distinguished work of fiction ever written about immigrant life… Surely the most lyrically authentic novel in American literature about a young boy’s coming to consciousness.” The story of an Austrian-Jewish immigrant family living on the Lower East Side in the early 20th century, Roth’s 1934 novel is a piercing look at city life, depravity, and identity.
The rest at Flavorpill