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Immigration Reading Group

In Spring 2017, the Center launched an immigration reading group to promote an understanding of the multiple experiences of immigrants. This informal reading group will meet a few times during the semester to discuss novels featuring immigrant characters and the American immigrant experience. This past semester, the reading group was led by Dr. Robert Chiles of the UMD Department of History.

Please see below for our past books. We hope you will join us in the spring!


Past Books


Jungle Cover

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, February 27, 2019 at 4:00pm, 2110 Taliaferro Hall

The Jungle follows the story of Jurgis Rudkus and Ona Lukoszaite, who have recently settled in Chicago from their home country of Lithuania. Now residing in Packington, the center of Lithuanian immigration and Chicago's meatpacking district, the couple struggle to thrive with the dangerous conditions, poor economic climate, and political corruption prevalent in the neighborhood. What continues to push them forward is their faith in the American Dream.



Christ Cover

Christ in Concrete by Pietro di Donato, November 28, 5:00pm, 2110 Taliaferro Hall

With Special Guest Dr. David Sicilia!

Christ in Concrete is a 1939 novel about Italian-American construction workers. Inspired by the death of the author's father in a construction accident on Good Friday in 1923, the book tells the story of a bricklayer and his struggle to provide a home for his family.



Refugees Cover

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen, October 10, 4:00pm, 2110 Taliaferro Hall

In Fall 2018, we discussed The Refugees, this year's University of Maryland First Year Book. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, this collection of short stories about displacement and exile follows the hopes and expectations of people migrating from Vietnam to the United States.


Spring 2018 Flyer

Out of This Furnace by Thomas Bell, February 28, 4:30pm, 2110 Taliaferro Hall
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, April 25, 4:30pm, 2110 Taliaferro Hall

The two books for Spring 2018 focused on a diverse range of immigrant experiences. In February, we followed three generations of the Kracha family as they made their way from Hungary to America, witnessing their ups and downs as they pursued the "American Dream." And in April, we read Thanhha Lai's story of a young girl and her family who moved to Alabama to escape the Vietnam War.


Fall 2017 Flyer

Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez
The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

The three books for Fall 2017 focused on a diverse range of immigrant experiences. In September, we met Chino, an artist and son of an Ecuadorian father and Puerto Rican mother living in East Harlem, as he used his abilities to improve his socioeconomic situation. In October, we read Mario Puzo's semi-biographical novel, inspired by his own mother, that follows Lucia Santa and her journey guiding her immigrant family through the Great Depression and World War II in New York City. Finally, in November we read Thanhha Lai's story of a young girl and her family who moved to Alabama to escape the Vietnam War.



My Antonia

My Antonia by Willa Cather
Thursday, April 6

My Antonia tells the story of two migrants, an orphaned boy from Virginia and a daughter of Bohemiam immigrants, who come to Nebraska as pioneers in the late nineteenth century. My Antonia was first published in 1918 as part of Cather's trilogy of novels about life in the American West, and is widely regarded as Cather's masterpiece.



Bread Givers

Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
Thursday, May 11

Bread Givers, written in 1925 by Jewish-American autor Anzia Yezierska, tells the coming-of-age story of a young, Polish-American Orthodox Jewish girl growing up in the Lower East Side in the 1920s. The protagonist and narrator, Sara Smolinsky, lives with her immigrant parents and three sisters in a tenament and faces struggles related to destitution and familial conflict. The novel follows Sara's journey in pursuing her education and her complicated identity as Jewish and as a second-generation immigrant.



Center for Global Migration Studies

2133 Francis Scott Key Hall
4280 Chapel Lane
College Park, MD 20742

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Phone: 301-405-4305
Email: globalmigration@umd.edu

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