Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Editor
Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Editor Hyperion Books $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6589-5
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 236 pages - 978-0-7868-8343-1
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For many of the immigrant writers in this revealing anthology, the fusion of ""old country"" customs, habits and lifestyles with those of the ""new country"" is fueled by pride and shame, determination and denial. Yet for others, the transition is made with relative ease. As a whole, this compelling collection illustrates that the speed of acclimation depends upon factors ranging from the writer's presuppositions to the time and location of her arrival in America. In an untitled essay, Lillianet Brintraup relates the uncomfortable experience of arriving from Chile to join a Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan, where the hectic pace and long work hours made her long for home. In ""Secret Latina at Large,"" Veronica Chambers reflects on her first trip, at age 27, to her native Panama where she reveled in that country's similarities to her home in Brooklyn, as well as in its differences. Edwidge Danticat's ""AHA!: Reflections On"" is a sad reminder of America's prejudicial attitudes toward African-Haitian-Americans. Editor Danquah (Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression) has gathered writers from Japan, China, Burundi, Ireland and a host of other countries who testify to the influence of American television, the politics involved in choosing a language and the effects of climate, fast food and dress on the assimilation process. Providing insights into the variety of immigrant experiences, they dispel the belief that ""in order to move toward something, one must move away from something else."" (Feb.)
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