|Authors Eugenia Kim, Angie Kim and Reyna Grande|
|E. C. Osondu|
At times like this I find myself reflecting that I too am an immigrant - that when I arrived in Boston, although I spoke the language, adjustment to American culture was deeply unsettling to my sense of self. A feeling of disconnect and of being "other" has followed me all my life. It is a sense that resurfaced when my husband and I joined the American Foreign Service. I once again found myself living in foreign cultures as an alien - as an outsider. I am well aware that my experience was cushioned. I did not have to struggle financially. I did not face racism.
And yet. And yet. And yet.
The painful experience of cultural adjustment, of never quite adjusting, of always remaining an outsider, of always being considered by others to be OTHER, has been an abiding aspect of my life.
I would not frame this as entirely negative, however. It is otherness in literature which draws and compels me, also otherness in friendship and in love. My closest friends, and the men I have loved tend to be iconoclasts, to feel themselves as "other" rather than happily swimming with the mainstream. So then, I wonder how much more intensely was this experience felt by the writers we heard from this evening?
We heard from Eugenia Kim, and from Melissa Rivero - author of The Affairs of the Falcons. Rivero is an immigrant from Peru, who arrived in this country as an undocumented toddler. Her novel describes what it meant to come to terms with her status - always under the surface of who she was - she, who has become the mother of two, a lawyer - and now an award winning novelist.
I believe all of us came away from the evening with hearts full of gratitude and admiration. I'm excited to read their important books and discuss them with my friends and fellow readers.
|Melissa Rivero who won the award this evening|