The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh is a personal favorite. I re-read this thinking that my love for it was misplaced but, surprise, it was not! One reason is Tridib, the central character, who functions as Ghosh’s mouthpiece.
Themes: home, memory, relationships (between generations), history, and borders (geography).
Place: “I could not persuade her that a place does not merely exist, that is has to be invented in one’s imagination… so that although she [Ila] had lived in many places, she had never traveled at all” (21).
Brick Lane by Monica Ali, an example of postcolonial immigrant fiction, describes the story of Nazneen and her family. She is born in Bangladesh and moves to Tower Hamlets, London with her older husband, Chanu. Brick Lane is the street at the heart of the Bangladeshi community in London. There are two narrators: Nazneen as a third person narrator and her sister, Hasina through her letters to Nazneen.
Themes: family (both the married family of Chanu and family in Bangladesh); female solidarity for both Nazneen and her sister, Hasina; racism and clash of cultures; food and eating; home; and knowledge and education (as seen in Chanu’s certificates and degrees). The idea of the home, the return to the home, the idea on how to make the new place a home are all central concerns in an immigration novel, and described in detail in Brick Lane. There is also the symbol of ice skating which is a fantasy for Nazneen, means of freedom, and which Nazneen accepts at the end of the text. Religion also plays an important part, along with enterprises (Chanu’s employment in the government and as a cab driver, later his soap business), Nazneen’s work as a seamstress, and later her work as a designer with Razia. Also there is Mrs. Islam’s usury where she charges a 33% interest. Spoiler alert- Chanu returns to Bangladesh alone, to open a soap industry. Nazneen’s lover, Karim is also rumored to have returned to Bangladesh. Hasina also runs away with the cook at her place of employment.