Immigrant Voices:

Rave Reviews for the Foundation’s First Virtual Discussion Series!

We recently held four discussion sessions focused on our anthology Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories. Participants from around the country came together online to talk about 12 of the stories in this volume, many of which appear only in this Great Books publication.

The authors of the stories we discussed were born in a variety of countries, including Peru, Iran, India, Nigeria, Russia, and Haiti. As you might expect, the stories’ treatment of the experiences of coming to America, settling here, and sometimes going back and forth between the United States and a home country were also quite different. The magical realism of Porochista Khakpour’s “Mother the Big” and the long arc of character development in Lara Vapnyar’s “Fischer vs. Spassky” were particular favorites of the group.

Immigrant Voices Discussion series participants in a zoom discussion

Here’s what some group members had to say about the series:

John Sirek: “The experiences we read about feel much more universal and closer to my own experiences than I would have expected. . . . Different members of the group highlight or identify aspects of the texts I may have glossed over or missed all together. Something that may seem incidental to me is central to someone else’s understanding. It’s like seeing the world through other members of the group as well as seeing it through the eyes of the authors and characters.”

Julie DeCuypere: “I usually don’t read short stories, but this format has been a nice change for me. I have appreciated the comments from others in this group—I think the diverse reading material has also contributed to a more robust discussion. The topic of immigrant voices has given me new perspectives and also made me explore my own parents’ and grandparents’ immigrant stories.”

Marcia McGerty: “The short stories in Immigrant Voices illustrate our common humanity while at the same time emphasizing our individuality. The decision to leave one’s home and adapt to a new country presents its own unique problems. After reading and discussing these stories, I have reached a new understanding and empathy for immigrants.”

Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories

The 18 stories collected in Immigrant Voices highlight the complex relationships of immigrants in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century with their families, friends, new surroundings, and home countries. The authors themselves have made many of the same kinds of transitions as the characters they portray, and they offer fresh perspectives on the immigrant experience. Coedited by award-winning author Achy Obejas and cultural studies scholar Megan Bayles, this anthology addresses the perennial questions about society and the individual that the authors of the great books have pondered for centuries.