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Contemporary Literature of the Immigrant Experience in the United States: Home

Immigration to the US

Illustration by Chris Gash, Image Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania Arts & Sciences

Types of Resources

  • Book
  • Article
  • Database
  • Organization Website
  • Multimedia Resource

Online Publications & Organizations

Words without Borders

Founded in 2003, Words Without Borders seeks to promote cultural understanding through the translation, publication, and promotion of contemporary international literature. The organization encompasses an online magazine, a blog, educational resources, and events. Words Without Borders has published over 2,200 writers from 134 countries, translated from 114 languages. Its monthly online magazine publishes high-quality English translations of contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as reviews of new books in translation. Its blog, WWB Daily, provides commentary, interviews, and essays on topics related to translation and international literature.

PEN America

Founded in 1922, PEN America is a nonprofit that is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. The organizations's mission is to protect human rights and free expression in the United States and globally in relation to literature and creators. PEN America's membership consists of more than 7,200 novelists, journalists, nonfiction writers, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other writing professionals, as well as readers. The organization consists of online publications including interviews and press releases, awards, initiatives, and events, including the PEN World Voices Festival.

PEN International

Founded in 1921, PEN International is a worldwide association of writers and supporters, dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and upholding literature as a force of world culture. The association has autonomous International PEN centers in over 100 countries. The organization's activities include campaigns, initiatives, projects, programs, and events.

Electric Literature

Founded in 2009, Electric Literature is a nonprofit digital publisher committed to making literature more "exciting, relevant, and inclusive" (from its website) and exploring how literature can illuminate social justice issues. Its content includes essays, criticism, and a weekly fiction series, Recommended Reading.

Literary Hub

Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature, Literary Hub is dedicated to collecting great literary content in one place. It publishes literature-related news, writing-related content, longform journalism, poetry, short stories, novel excerpts, and book reviews, among other things.

World Literature Today

A bimonthly online magazine from the University of Oklahoma, World Literature Today showcases international literature and culture. It publishes essays, criticism, poetry, fiction, and a blog, all focused on literature from around the globe. It also sponsors literary prizes and educational initiatives.


The topic of immigration to the United States has a long and complex history. Since the founding of the country, people have uprooted their lives to come to the United States for economic, political, and religious reasons, among others. The path to a better life, however, is fraught with struggle. This LibGuide aims to provide an introduction to this topic through contemporary literature, and is intended to serve as a resource for undergraduate students in the course Contemporary American Immigrant Literature. The resources provided here will aid students in their final project, which is an analytical research project comparing themes related to immigration in literature from different geographic regions. 

Each page recommends novels and short stories about the American immigrant experience of people from particular geographic regions, as well as providing additional resources including articles, databases, and multimedia. The novels and short stories highlighted have all been either awarded or nominated for awards, or are written by award-winning authors. Each book exemplifies common themes in contemporary American immigrant literature, such as:

  • assimilation
  • alienation
  • separation
  • economic issues
  • language barriers
  • racism
  • family
  • cultural, ethnic, and national identity


Border and Migration Studies Online

This database from Alexander Street Press explores and provides historical background on more than thirty key worldwide border areas. It includes 100,000 pages of text, 175 hours of video, and 1,000 images.

Literary Reference Center Plus

This database from EBSCO provides information from major respected reference works, books, and literary journals, as well as its own original content. It contains thousands of plot summaries, author biographies and interviews, reviews and criticism, poetry, short stories, and full-text classics.

Contemporary Authors

Part of Literature Resource Center, this database also contains more than 10,000 scholarly biocritical essays on more than 120,000 authors and their works. 

Literature Resource Center

This database from Gale offers comprehensive information on a wide range of authors and their works. It features information and critical analysis on literary figures from all time periods in genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, and journalism.

Literature Online

This database from ProQuest contains more than 350,000 works of poetry, prose and drama from the 8th century to the present day.

Book Review Index Online

Book Review Index Online includes more than 5 million book reviews, allowing users to conduct research in numerous disciplines, including literature, history, education, and psychology.

Database Instruction

Video: Evian Pan & Alicia Hyman

Online Resources

Video: Evian Pan & Alicia Hyman

Relevant Books & Articles

Boelhower, W. (1981). The immigrant novel as genre. MELUS 8(1), 3-13. doi:10.2307/467364

Krumrey, D. (2006). Displacing the nation: Contemporary literature by and about immigrants. Caliban, 19. doi: 10.4000/caliban.2486

Langley, O. M. (2017). Fictions of belonging: "New Arrival Literature" and contemporary discourse on U.S. immigration (Honors College thesis). Retrieved from University of Vermont ScholarWorks @ UVM.