10 Great Novels About the Immigrant Experience

This week saw the release of Karolina Waclawiak’s debut novel How to Get Into the Twin Palms, a wonderful little book that made us fall in love with the idea of the immigrant novel all over again. A Polish émigré herself, Waclawiak’s tale is a twist on the traditional coming-to-America novel, her heroine an immigrant trying to pass as another kind of immigrant, testing the waters, in the LA heat. But off-center as it may be, the book got us thinking about some of our favorite novels about the immigrant experience, a few of which we’ve collected here — read through our list of great fictional immigrant and émigré stories after the jump, and as ever, if we’ve missed your own favorite, please add it to our list in the comments!

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.