Cover image for The new Americans
The new Americans
Martínez, Rubén.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Press : Distributed by Norton, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 251 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
JV6456 .M37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Spanning four continents and several years in the lives of seven immigrant families, The New Americans is at once the most globe-trotting and intimate introduction to the new American immigration. Emmy Award-winning journalist Rub#65533;n Mart#65533;nez's "powerful and perceptive chronicle" ( Booklist ) lyrically recounts the dramatic voyages and day-to-day experiences of a small group of families who were featured in the PBS documentary of the same name. They come from Mexico, Nigeria, Palestine, India, and the Dominican Republic, and wind up in Chicago, Montana, Silicon Valley, and the California badlands. Their stories--told with "enthralling" ( Publishers Weekly ) literary skill and illustrated with stunning portraits from award-winning photographer Joseph Rodriguez--paint a portrait of the new, multicultural America.

Martinez weaves his own family's moving immigrant history into the book, and essays on the films of Indian American director Mira Nair, the contemporary corridos of Mexican border musicians Los Tigres del Norte, and other immigrant artists explore the ways the new immigrant culture is transforming the United States.

Author Notes

Ruben Martinez, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and poet, is associate editor at Pacific News Service and a correspondent for PBS's religion and ethics news weekly. Author of The Other Side, he has appeared as a commentator on Nightline, Frontline and CNN. He lives in Los Angeles.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Emmy Award-winning Martinez has penned five powerful and perceptive immigrant portraits to accompany an upcoming PBS miniseries, and each one forces the reader to look beyond his or her own small world. Martinez follows five individuals or groups in their search for acceptance in the U.S.--a Palestinian woman escaping the hopelessness of her nonexistent state; refugees from the Nigerian military regime; two Dominican baseball players on a single-A team in Great Falls, Montana; an extended Mexican family (two sisters, one husband, and 10 kids) all living in a trailer and working the fields near a California aqueduct; and an Indian computer programmer who experiences both boom and bust in Silicon Valley. Martinez uses their stories to demonstrate the universality of the immigrant experience, skillfully tying them together with essays on the emerging immigrant pop culture. His concluding discussion of the dichotomies inherent in the immigration debate--manifest by the average U.S. citizen who enjoys ethnic food, then engages in post-9/11 racial profiling--is both challenging and thought provoking. --Deborah Donovan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This enthralling collection of companion essays to the upcoming PBS series on immigration explores a foundational aspect of the American identity. Martinez, a radio and TV commentator and author of Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, looks at five recent immigrants whose circumstances and experiences vary widely: a relative of martyred Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa making her way in Chicago; a Mexican migrant worker trying to bring his family across the border; two Dominican baseball players who stand out on a minor league team in Great Falls, Montana; an Indian computer programmer who moves to Silicon Valley on the eve of the dot-com crash; and a Palestinian woman, weary of the struggle on the West Bank, who marries a Palestinian-American man trying to connect with the intifada. Through their stories, his own reminiscences and additional pieces on immigrant cultural phenomena from filmmaker Mira Nair to the narco-corrido band Los Tigres del Norte, he explores the competing pull of New World modernity and freedom versus Old World tradition and community, the loneliness of strangers in a strange land, and the conflicting meanings that America holds for immigrants and that immigrants hold for America. Masterfully evoking such diverse settings as a Palestinian wedding in Chicago, a raucous ball game in Guatemala City and a torpid migrant trailer camp in California, Martinez's writing is clear-eyed and incisive-and sometimes heartbreaking and hilarious. Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Although an increasing volume of research is being done to document an immigrant population of unprecedented size and diversity in the United States, the story of most of these newcomers remains untold. An accomplished author and journalist and himself the son of Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants, Martinez (creative writing, Univ. of Houston; Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail) does much to remedy our ignorance. This book, a companion to a PBS miniseries, details the lives of seven families who have recently arrived in the United States from the West Bank, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and India. Some of them occupy the bottom rungs of society, while others are middle-class professionals, but all of them experience a sense of inner conflict between the Old World and the New. Martinez sympathetically tells the story of each while at the same time maintaining the objectivity of a journalist. Though he occasionally reflects upon his own experiences, Martinez generally succeeds in making the book about his subjects rather than himself. He does not offer much in the way of policy recommendations other than to advocate a more compassionate approach to the "problem" of immigration. Well illustrated with images by photojournalist Rodriguez, this book is recommended for school, public, and academic libraries.-David A. Timko, U.S. Census Bureau Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prologuep. 1
1. Palestine to Chicago: Naima Saddeh and Hatem Abudayyehp. 25
(The Narrative of Exile: Mahmoud Darwish)p. 57
2. Nigeria to Chicago: Israel and Ngozi Nwidor, and Barine Wiwa-Lawanip. 65
(The Narrative of Exile: Ken Saro-Wiwa)p. 99
3. Dominican Republic to Great Falls: Ricardo Rodriguez and Jose Garciap. 111
(The Narrative of Exile: Juan Luis Guerra)p. 135
4. Mexico to Mecca: The Flores Familyp. 145
(The Narrative of Exile: Los Tigres del Norte and Manu Chao)p. 173
5. India to Silicon Valley: Anjan Bacchu and Harshini Radhakrishnanp. 185
(The Narrative of Exile: Mira Nair)p. 213
Epiloguep. 227
Selected Bibliographyp. 249