Monday, July 11, 2011

Immigrant Stories ala Europa Editions

Have you heard of the Europa Challenge?  This unique challenge asks participants to commit to reading books from Europa Editions   - a publisher of literary fiction.   In fact, 2/3 of their titles are works of literature in translation.  With this international influence, it is not surprising that many of their titles also include the theme of immigration/emigration.  In keeping with my interest in Immigrant Stories ,  my focus for the Europa Challenge will be their books with an immigrant theme which include:

 Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio: A small culturally mixed community living an apartment building in the center of Rome is thrown into disarray when one of the neighbors is murdered. An investigation ensues and as each of the victim’s neighbors is questioned, the reader is offered an all-access pass into the most colorful neighborhood in contemporary Rome. Each character takes his or her turn center-stage, “giving evidence,” recounting his or her story—the dramas of emigration, the daily equivocations of immigration, the fears and misunderstandings of a life spent on society’s margins, abused by mainstream culture’s fears and indifference, preconceptions and insensitivity. What emerges is a touching story that is common to us all, whether we live in Rome or in Los Angeles.

The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris:   This exhilarating novel about tradition and modernity, obligation and emancipation, also speaks to what it means to live in a heterogeneous society where cultures and ideologies often clash. With this portrait of a man balanced between two cultures—liberated and successful but nonetheless conditioned by religion, family, and an overbearing mother—Leïla Marouane establishes herself as an original and talented chronicler of modern man’s inhibitions and taboos.

Between Two Seas: With the exuberance of innocence and childlike urgency, the story of Heumann’s fame and Bellusci’s obsession is told through the eyes of Florian—the two men’s grandson, a child of two countries and two cultures that are often at odds, and the unlikely heir to his Italian grandfather’s obsession.

Broken Glass Park :
The heroine of this engrossing and thoroughly contemporary novel is seventeen-year-old Sascha Naimann. Sascha was born in Moscow, but now lives in Berlin with her two younger siblings and, until recently, her mother. She is precocious, independent, street-wise, and, since her stepfather murdered her mother several months ago, an orphan. . . . Germany’s Freundin Magazine called Broken Glass Park “a gripping portrayal of life on the margins of society.” But Sascha’s story does not remain on the margins; it goes straight to the heart of what it means to be young, alive, and conscious in these first decades of the new century.

Bone China: A beautifully crafted story of hope and survival set in Sri Lanka and England that will appeal to all readers of White Teeth and The Inheritance of Loss.

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine: Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.

Told with sly humor and an anthropologist’s eye for detail, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine is the story of three unforgettable women whose destinies are tangled up in a family dynamic that is at turns hilarious and tragic. In her new novel, Russian-born Alina Bronsky gives readers a moving portrait of the devious limits of the will to survive.

I like the fact that these books cover emigration to countries other than the US which is a change from many of the other books I have read for the challenge. So, if you are a participant in the Immigrant Stories Challenge, consider Europa Editions for some of your selections and join in the Europa Challenge!

If immigrant stories are not your thing, never fear - there are over 100 books in the Europa catalog covering a variety of topics - I am sure there is one in there for you!


  1. Some of the books seem really great, I will look for them :) Thanks!

  2. I find myself drawn to all these wonderful titles lately and ordered a few Europas last week. I just finished A Kind of Intimacy (working on my review) but I LOVED it. It isn't an immigrant story, but it is the BEST book I've read in 2011. Have fun with this challenge Colleen.

  3. I love immigrant stories too. Good luck with the challenge!

  4. I've read a few Europa editions. Interesting challege. I'd like to explore them more.

  5. I am so excited about this challenge. I especially want to read Broken Glass Park.

  6. I love all of the Europa books I've read. These immigrant tales sound interesting too. Good luck with the challenge :)

  7. I love your choices, Colleen. I'm doing a few of the same ones, so I'm especially looking forward to your reviews!

  8. What great picks! These books seem so unusual and interesting.