Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Books: The second generation

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

A book I can’t wait to read is coming out next week: Inheriting the City: the Children of Immigrants Come of Age, by John Mollenkopf, Philip Kasinitz, Mary Waters, and Jennifer Holdaway. The book gives the results of a comprehensive study of second-generation immigrants in New York City: “their experiences growing up, their education, entry into the work force, their social and political lives, and how they establish their own families.” The authors will appear in a panel discussion on the findings at 5 pm Wednesday, May 14, at the Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave at 34th St.

According to the Graduate Center, “Through a combination of statistical comparisons, telling interviews and finely grained qualitative analysis, the authors identify and explore the myriad complexities of their subjects’ lives in the context of their own individual and family experiences, their national origins, other contemporary immigrant groups, native New Yorkers, and the waves of preceding immigrant groups.”

More on this later.

Adventure in Five Points

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Metropolis, by Elizabeth Gaffney (Random House, 2005)

The hero of this novel is a young German man who arrives in New York and gets into trouble fast. Under the adopted name Frank Harris, he juggles the dictates of his conscience with the demands of a Five Points gang, particularly its alluring representative Beatrice. Although the aggressive omniscience of the narrator is a little too much for me, it’s certainly a rollicking story. It begins in the 1860s and covers lower Manhattan, Fort Greene, and the nascent Brooklyn Bridge. Lots of interesting historical color, particularly concerning Irish and German immigrants of the day.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Gaffney on her winning proposal for the Brooklyn Historical Society’s “Interpreting Brooklyn” project. I’m sure the results will be compelling.

Dispatch from Brooklyn & Puebla

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

There’s No José Here: Following the Hidden Lives of Mexican Immigrants, by Gabriel Thompson (Nation Books, 2007)

I highly recommend this book. Thompson was an organizer at the Pratt Area Community Council in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, when he became friends with Enrique, a smart, savvy, and talkative cab driver from Puebla. This is Enrique’s tale and more.

It’s both a good solid look at the difficulties faced by Mexican immigrants in New York (those who came legally and those who didn’t), and a clear-eyed picture of their families’ lives in rural Mexico. It’s not a tract, just a story about people.

And now, whenever I use Chinantla corn tortillas, I feel a personal connection.