The Penguin Book of Migration Literature: Departures, Arrivals, Generations, Returns

The Penguin Book of Migration Literature: Departures, Arrivals, Generations, Returns


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[Ahmad's] "introduction is fiery and charismatic... This book encompasses the diversity of experience, with beautiful variations and stories that bicker back and forth." —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

The first global anthology of migration literature featuring works by Mohsin Hamid, Zadie Smith, Marjane Satrapi, Salman Rushdie, and Warsan Shire, with a foreword by Edwidge Danticat, author of Everything Inside

A Penguin Classic

Every year, three to four million people move to a new country. From war refugees to corporate expats, migrants constantly reshape their places of origin and arrival. This selection of works collected together for the first time brings together the most compelling literary depictions of migration.

Organized in four parts (Departures, Arrivals, Generations, and Returns), The Penguin Book of Migration Literature conveys the intricacy of worldwide migration patterns, the diversity of immigrant experiences, and the commonalities among many of those diverse experiences. Ranging widely across the eighteenth through twenty-first centuries, across every continent of the earth, and across multiple literary genres, the anthology gives readers an understanding of our rapidly changing world, through the eyes of those at the center of that change. With thirty carefully selected poems, short stories, and excerpts spanning three hundred years and twenty-five countries, the collection brings together luminaries, emerging writers, and others who have earned a wide following in their home countries but have been less recognized in the Anglophone world. Editor of the volume Dohra Ahmad provides a contextual introduction, notes, and suggestions for further exploration.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143133384
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 432,497
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)

About the Author

Dohra Ahmad is professor of English at St. John's University. She is the author of Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America (2009) and editor of Rotten English: A Literary Anthology (2007).

Edwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!; a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones; The Dew Breaker; Create Dangerously; Claire of the Sea Light; and the forthcoming Everything Inside. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, The Best American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir, and Haiti Noir 2. Her memoir, Brother, I'm Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur fellow.

Reading Group Guide

1. What was your favorite story, poem, or excerpt? Which one(s) really resonated with you, and why?

2. What is your migration story? Do any of the pieces in this collection connect to your own experience or your family’s history?

3. What are some of the genres or writing types that you saw here? Why do you think that the authors chose those particular genres? (For example, why would Edwidge Danticat format “Children of the Sea” as epistolary fiction, or a series of letters between separated lovers? Why would Claude McKay use a strict meter and rhyme scheme in “The Tropics in New York”?)

4. What differences did you notice between the experiences of children (as in “Under the Wire,” Lost in Translation, “The Time of the Peacock,” and “Green”), young adults (as in The Bridge of the Golden Horn, Tea in the Harem, and White Teeth), and older adults (as in Temporary People, “My Son the Fanatic,” and “A Conversation”)?

5. Which characters are certain of their decision to migrate, and which are ambivalent? What factors do you see contributing to that difference?

6. How do you see categories like race, class, gender, sexuality, educational status, linguistic background, and religion shaping any character’s migration experience? What role have those identity categories played for you or your family members?

7. How did the various writers craft their language differently? Did their use of nonstandard English or untranslated words change how it felt to read their writing?

8. Watch any of the videos or listen to any of the audio recordings at Did you find that your perception of the poem or other literary work changed once you heard it read out loud?

9. In the foreword to this anthology, Edwidge Danticat writes, “Human beings have been migrating since the beginning of time.” What would the world look like without migration? What would literature look like?

10. What’s missing from the collection? Have you read works of migration literature that depict other routes and experiences that you didn’t see here? (To share those readings and see many others, go to

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