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Fiction roundup: Immigrants share diverse stories

books Updated: Sep 28, 2010 06:15 IST

Associated Press
Highlight Story

Sample these four stories of lives upended and changed by moving to America:

My Hollywood

By Mona Simpson

Knopf, 384 pp., $26.95

The relationship between mother and child is complicated. In the novel My Hollywood, a lonely, affluent housewife, Claire, a composer who moves to Los Angeles with her TV writer husband, doubts her maternal instincts. Her son's nanny, Lola, finds a deeper connection to her employers' kids than her five children back in the Philippines. Simpson employs first-person point of view, alternating between the two women. Claire's inner dialogue is a whirlwind of intellectual angst, while Lola takes a down-to-earth approach to the weird world of Hollywood. The result: a slightly bumpy but richly detailed account of two very different women who form a fragile friendship.— Korina Lopez

How to Be an American Housewife

By Margaret Dilloway

Putnam, 276 pp., $24.95

Margaret Dilloway's How to Be an American Housewife gets its heartfelt tone from the author's familial knowledge. Her mother, like Shoko, the woman in the novel, was a Japanese war bride who moved to the States and struggled to fit in. The title is inspired by a book Dilloway's mother owned: The American Way of Housekeeping. While Shoko's broken English is a bit jarring, the author explains in a note at the novel's end that it mimics her mother's speech patterns. Despite a too-perfect ending, Shoko's story is lovely, as is that of her all-American daughter Sue, who discovers true happiness only after connecting with her Japanese heritage. — Carol Memmott