In A PALACE IN THE OLD VILLAGE Tahar Ben Jelloun tells the elegiac and moving story of a simple man from a small village in Morocco, who feels completely lost in the fast moving, modern world. Mohammed had to change “from one time to another, one life to another” when back in 1962, this young peasant was persuaded to leave his remote village in Morocco and join the immigrant labour force in France. Now forty years later, he is about to start his retirement and this new situation preoccupies and worries him deeply. From one moment to the next, it will end the years of daily routines which have made him feel safe, secure and needed. They have also protected him from reflecting on his life and its challenges : “Everything seemed difficult to him, complicated, and he knew he was not made for conflicts.”

February 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: France, Middle East, World Lit

OPEN CITY by Teju Cole

When Julius, a young psychiatrist living in New York, looks out of his apartment window, he loves to watch the birds fly past. And when he occasionally spots geese flying in formation, he wonders how our life below would look like to them. This same external perspective—which one could argue immigrants master especially well—permeates Teju Cole’s debut novel, OPEN CITY.

February 8, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Literary, New York City

SMALL KINGDOMS by Anastasia Hobbet

In the period right after the first Gulf War, an uneasiness hung all over Kuwait—its residents forever waiting for Saddam Hussein to strike again. As an American expat in the country for five years around that same time period, author Anastasia Hobbet witnessed this unease first hand. It forms a perfect backdrop for her novel, Small Kingdoms, which tells the story of an assorted set of Kuwaiti and American characters.

January 27, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Middle East, World Lit

HOW TO READ THE AIR by Dinaw Mengestu

If there’s one useful outcome that has come out of Jonas Woldermariam’s trying childhood, it is this: Jonas has become an expert at varnishing the truth. This ability to embellish facts comes in especially handy at Jonas’s first job. He works at a law firm that helps newly arrived immigrants with the asylum process. Jonas’s job is to help the immigrants with their essays and edit them for structure and grammar. But Jonas can’t help adding some spice to their stories…

October 28, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Family Matters, Literary, Reading Guide, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A collection of short stories is one of my favorite genres for reading. It is rare to find a book of short stories that is consistent in quality. When I do, it is a rare gift. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK is just such a gift. It consists of stories about Nigeria and the United States, focusing on the clash of cultures and the cultural misunderstandings and prejudices that the protagonists face. This book also includes the short story that I consider my all-time favorite – “The Headstrong Mistress.” I read it for the third time in this collection. I first read it in The New Yorker, then in the Pen/O’Henry Prize Stories of 2010. It gets better each time I read it.

August 29, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author


As TRY TO REMEMBER begins in 1968, Gabriella is fifteen years old, living with her father, mother and two younger brothers near Miami, Florida. They have come to the United States from Colombia and though her parents both hold green cards, Gabi is afraid that they will all have their cards confiscated and be sent back to their village in Colombia. Gabi’s fears stem mostly from the fact that her father behaves erratically and her brothers get into trouble in school.

May 21, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Coming-of-Age, Florida, Latin American/Caribbean