Thinking about generations and migration

In one of my previous post I spoke about visiting my family and that feeling of belonging. It’s a subject that is still on my mind and has made me curious on the topic of cultures, migration and how it affects us. Whenever I have something in my mind, I end up reading about the topics or similar issues. I read a lot more fiction than non fiction and two books that I recently read, pop to my mind when thinking of generations, cultures, migration. They are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

I read Homegoing before visiting home. It is one of those books that you can’t put down. It is also a book that breaks your heart. In Homegoing you follow the descendants of two half sisters. Each chapter is the story of one descendant. There is a lot of information that is missing between descendants stories, but there is always a sense of connection or of knowing that there is something missing in that family history. It is not a story of migration,it is a story of how slavery broke families, the visible and invisible effects of it.  It does a great job of showing how generations connect to the past and that longing for what is home. It is a book that made me reflect on my descendants and the information I have of their lives. It is definitely a book that made me think about how my ancestors lives, dreams, ambitions, struggles, could be similar or different to mine.

Pachinko is a book I just finished reading. It follows a Korean family through generations. As oppose to Homegoing where each chapter is part of the story of one of the descendants, in Pachinko you get to follow the whole family (with the exception of a few chapters) through their ups and downs. This book touches on the sacrifices of the people that migrate to a country looking to improve the lives of their children. In this book specifically we are talking about a mother (Sunja) who marries and moves to Japan to give a better life to her son. There was a lot I didn’t know about the situation between Japan and Korea. It was an engrossing and sad read. This book really made me think about how little we really understand of the sacrifices our parents make for us. It also brought to mind how when you are in a country that is not your own we have to deal with so many stigmas and stereotypes.

The more I think about it, the more I realize this subject has been something that has intrigued me for a while. A subject I am drawn to when reading books. Two of my favorite books when I was in my teenage years where also on similar topics.

  • When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

This is a memoir, focusing on the reasons why Santiago’s family migrated to NY, having to deal with the racism and learning a new language.

  • Paula by Isabel Allende

This is Allende’s homage to her daughter who died of Porphyry in 1992. It is a mixture of family history and some magical realism.

I think all these books help shape my opinions on these subjects, but also help me reflect on my own issues.

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