Tag Archives: migration

Suri, Sandhya (dir). I for India

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In 1965 Yash Pal Suri left India for the U.K. The first thing he does on his arrival in England is to buy two Super-8 cameras, two projectors and two reel to reel recorders. One set of equipment he sends to his family in India, the other he keeps for himself. For 40 years he uses it to share his new life abroad with those back home – images of snow, miniskirted ladies dancing bare-legged, the first trip to an English supermarket – his taped thoughts and observations providing a unique chronicle of the eccentricities of his new English hosts. Back in India, his relatives in turn, respond with their own ‘cine-letters’ telling tales of weddings, festivals and village life. As time passes and the planned return to India becomes an increasingly remote possibility, the joy and curiosity of the early exchanges give way to the darker reality of alienation, racism and a family falling apart. A bitter-sweet time capsule of alienation, discovery, racism and belonging, I for India is a chronicle of immigration in sixties Britain and beyond, seen through the eyes of one Asian family and their movie camera.

Director: Sandhya Suri
Year: 2007
Distributer: ICA Projects

Mates, Susan Onthank. The Good Doctor

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Many of Mates’ characters have experienced some sort of cultural dislocation. In “Theng,” refugees from Cambodia living in Providence, Rhode Island, struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of despair and the bittersweet memories of their former home. In “Shambalileh, ” a Persian woman unable to have children with her American husband, is forced to reexamine her status both as wife and as foreigner. Unifying these incredibly diverse stories is the brave honesty with which the characters confront the tenuousness of their situations. For the most part, they share the tenacity of the woman in “Shambalileh, ” who “with great caution … began to imagine the rest of her life.” The central characters in several stories are doctors, whose candid explorations of the vast moral implications of medical practice make of their lives a sort of psychic battleground between good and evil. In “The Good Doctor,” a doctor torn between her dedication to medicine and her own requirements as a human being – what many of us might call her weaknesses – arrives at an intriguing conclusion. An intern in “Ambulance” risks her own well-being to save the life of a victim of gang violence. The twelve stories in this collection are powerful and durable. The debate between good and evil is so intense that the daily experiences of Mates; characters, transformed and reorganized, become psychic quests. Mates takes us back to the fundamental question that is the fountainhead of all serious fiction: how should we live?

Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Year: 1997
ISBN-10: 0877456127

(spoiler alert)

Lewycka, Marina. Two Caravans.

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 A field of strawberries in Kent…

And sitting in it are two caravans – one for the men and one for the women. The residents are from all over: miner’s son Andriy is from the old Ukraine, while sexy young Irina is from the new: they each other warily. There are the Poles, Tomasz and Yola; two Chinese girls; and Emauel from Malawi. They’re all here to pick strawberries in England’s green and pleasant land.

But these days England’s not so pleasant for immigrants. Not with Russian gangster-wannabes like Vulk, who’s taken a shine to Irina and thinks kidnapping is a wooing strategy. And so Andriy – who really doesn’t fancy Irina, honest – must set off in search of that girl he’s not in love with.

Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 024196184X

Lewycka, Marina. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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‘Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.’

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth.

But the sisters’ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history and sends them back to roots they’d much rather forget . . ..

Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0241961823

Levy, Andrea. Small Island

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“It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?

Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It’s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door.

Gilbert’s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was…”

Publisher: Headline Review
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 075530750X

Levy, Andrea. Every Light in the House Burnin’

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‘Better opportunity’ – that’s why Angela’s dad sailed to England from America in 1948 on the Empire Windrush. Six months later her mum joined him in his one room in Earl’s Court…

…Twenty years and four children later, Mr Jacob has become seriously ill and starts to move unsteadily through the care of the National Health Service. As Angela, his youngest, tries to help her mother through this ordeal, she finds herself reliving her childhood years, spent on a council estate in Highbury.

Publisher: Headline Review
Year: 1995
ISBN-10: 074724653X

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies

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“Pulitzer-winning, scintillating studies in yearning and exile from a Bengali Bostonian woman of immense promise.

A couple exchange unprecedented confessions during nightly blackouts in their Boston apartment as they struggle to cope with a heartbreaking loss; a student arrives in new lodgings in a mystifying new land and, while he awaits the arrival of his arranged-marriage wife from Bengal, he finds his first bearings with the aid of the curious evening rituals that his centenarian landlady orchestrates; a schoolboy looks on while his childminder finds that the smallest dislocation can unbalance her new American life all too easily and send her spiralling into nostalgia for her homeland…

Jhumpa Lahiri’s prose is beautifully measured, subtle and sober, and she is a writer who leaves a lot unsaid, but this work is rich in observational detail, evocative of the yearnings of the exile (mostly Indians in Boston here), and full of emotional pull and reverberation.”

Publisher: Flamingo
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 0006551793

(spoiler alert)

Farya (Write to Life member). Lampedusa

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Write to Life is the creative writing group of Freedom from Torture. In the twelve years of our existence, we’ve grown from a small group of clients writing for each other, to a thriving family of twenty or so, who read all over the country, write for online and print publications, and star in both live theatre and film.

The linked poem was published on their website in 2014: “In light of the shipwrecks in the Mediterranean recently we highlight a commemorative poem by Write to Life member Faryad”

Link > Lampedusa <

Frears, Stephen (dir). Dirty pretty things

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Okwe is an illegal Nigerian immigrant leading a hard life and struggling to survive in London’s underground. He works as a hotel receptionist in the night time and as he has a doctor degree he practices some medicine, during the day, in a very odd way. Besides that he must constantly escape from Immigration officers. One day Okwe discovers by chance an illegal scheme of surgeries is being lead by Juan, his boss in the hotel. Juan quickly comes up with a tempting proposal: if Okwe accepts to perform the illegal surgeries he makes a lot of money and gets legalized situation in the U.K. Can Okwe keep his moral values intact?

Producers: Robert Jones, Tracey Seaward
Year: 2002
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Steven Knight

(spoiler alert)