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The New American: Book summary and reviews of The New American by Micheline Aharonian Marcom

The New American

by Micheline Aharonian Marcom

The New American by Micheline Aharonian Marcom X
The New American by Micheline Aharonian Marcom
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Aug 18, 2020
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

The epic journey of a young Guatemalan American college student, a "dreamer," who gets deported and decides to make his way back home to California.

One day, Emilio learns a shocking secret: he is undocumented. His parents, who emi­grated from Guatemala to California, had never told him.

Emilio slowly adjusts to his new normal. All is going well, he's in his second year at UC Berkeley...then he gets into a car accident, and—without a driver's license or any ID—the policeman on the scene reports him to Immi­gration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Once deported to Guatemala, Emilio is determined to get back to California, the only home he has ever known. It is an epic journey that takes him across thousands of miles and eventually the Sonoran Desert of the United States–Mexico border, meeting thieves and corrupt law enforcement but also kind strangers and new friends.

Inspired in part by interviews with Central American refugees, and told in lyrical prose, Micheline Aharonian Marcom weaves a heart-pounding and heartbreaking tale of adventure. The New American tells the story of one young man who risks so much to go home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Marcom's prose is steady and soulful...and the narrative is deepened by a series of lyrical interludes describing dangerous journeys of unnamed refugees...Marcom's remarkable tale credibly captures the desperation and despair of those who undertake the dangerous trek north." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Marcom has penned a lyrical mediation on being and becoming, identity and anonymity, and the ambiguity of place." - Library Journal (starred review)

"The author's effort to "humanize" Emilio the Dreamer and the other Central American migrants raises questions about whom this novel is for and what it's assuming about whose voices will be heard on migration. A gripping novel to read alongside the work of contemporary Latinx writers." - Kirkus Reviews

"[A] poetic nightmarescape that hums with foreboding and the anguish of lost innocence...Marcom masterfully navigates the graphic ugliness of deportation and anguished immigration with entreaties to a remote and capricious God, creating a tough but necessary and beautiful novel." - Booklist

"[Marcom] depicts inhumanity with visceral force, but her bracing empathy (and hope) shines above all." - Entertainment Weekly

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Author Information

Micheline Aharonian Marcom

Micheline Aharonian Marcom was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Los Angeles. She has published six novels, including a trilogy of books about the Armenian genocide and its aftermath in the 20th century. She has received fellowships and awards from the Lannan Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, and the US Artists' Foundation. Her first novel, Three Apples Fell From Heaven, was a New York Times Notable Book and Runner-Up for the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction. Her second novel, The Daydreaming Boy, won the PEN/USA Award for Fiction. In 2008, Marcom taught in Beirut, Lebanon, on a Fulbright Fellowship. Marcom splits here time between California and Virginia where she is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She is the founder and Creative Director of The New American Story Project [NASP], a digital oral history project focused on unaccompanied Central American minors who journeyed thousands of miles to reach the US. Visit NASP at NewAmericanStoryProject.org.

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