Saturday, May 30, 2009

Five best: books about the immigrant life

Lynn Freed, author of the newly released novel The Servants’ Quarters, named "her favorite books evoking the immigrant life" for the Wall Street Journal.

One book on the list:
Voyage in the Dark
by Jean Rhys
William Morrow, 1935

“It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known.... The colours were different, the smells different, the feeling things gave you right down inside yourself was different.” Thus opens Jean Rhys’s most autobiographical novel, “Voyage in the Dark.” Sent to England from her home in the West Indies, Anna Morgan becomes a chorus girl and the mistress of a much older, wealthy Englishman. When he abandons her, she is desolate, adrift in a world where “the houses are all exactly alike, and the streets going north, south, east, west, all exactly alike.” With few resources and nothing to go home to, Anna soon slips into a familiar immigrant’s cycle of drink and despair. What she (and Jean Rhys) never loses, however, is the clarity and freshness of her insights, her relentless eye for hypocrisy.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue