100 books like Brokering Belonging

By Lisa Rose Mar,

Here are 100 books that Brokering Belonging fans have personally recommended if you like Brokering Belonging. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China

Alison R. Marshall Author Of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba

From my list on to reimagine Chinatown.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese culture. My great uncle owned an import-export shop in 1920s Montreal and many of the things in his shop decorated my family home. An aunt who worked in Toronto’s Chinatown took me to see a Chinese opera performance and this began my journey to understand Chinese thought and culture first with an MA in Chinese poetry and then with a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies. After I learned that Sun Yatsen had visited Manitoba, where I had moved for work, my attention turned to Chinese nationalism. More than 15 years later, my research and work on KMT culture continues.

Alison's book list on to reimagine Chinatown

Alison R. Marshall Why did Alison love this book?

Having interviewed hundreds of Chinese Canadians, I knew that many of Canada’s earliest Chinese migrants met and gave money to Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, though most were less enthusiastic about Chiang Kai-shek. This book presented a complicated narrative of US-Chinese relations from the perspective of the Soong sisters, who straddled the boundaries of west and east and lived in a world where most Chinese were excluded because of their race. Similar to many of the bachelors in my book, the sisters were also influenced by KMT politics and religion. Both the Soong sisters and the bachelors knew that religion trumped race and that Christian identities and faith helped them open doors to dominant society that remained closed to most Chinese of the era. 

By Jung Chang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**SHORTLISTED FOR THE HWA NON-FICTION CROWN 2020**

They were the most famous sisters in China. As the country battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, the three Soong sisters from Shanghai were at the centre of power, and each of them left an indelible mark on history.

Red Sister, Ching-ling, married the 'Father of China', Sun Yat-sen, and rose to be Mao's vice-chair.

Little Sister, May-ling, became Madame Chiang Kai-shek, first lady of pre-Communist Nationalist China and a major political figure in her own right.

Big Sister, Ei-ling, became Chiang's unofficial main adviser - and made…


Book cover of Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate & Circumstance

Alison R. Marshall Author Of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba

From my list on to reimagine Chinatown.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese culture. My great uncle owned an import-export shop in 1920s Montreal and many of the things in his shop decorated my family home. An aunt who worked in Toronto’s Chinatown took me to see a Chinese opera performance and this began my journey to understand Chinese thought and culture first with an MA in Chinese poetry and then with a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies. After I learned that Sun Yatsen had visited Manitoba, where I had moved for work, my attention turned to Chinese nationalism. More than 15 years later, my research and work on KMT culture continues.

Alison's book list on to reimagine Chinatown

Alison R. Marshall Why did Alison love this book?

Denise Chong explores a similar period of Chinese Canadian history in Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate & Circumstance. Similar to my own book, Lives of the Family looks beyond Vancouver and British Columbia Chinatowns to tell the story of Chinese Canadian migrants, whose lives straddled continents, who ran successful businesses, and were involved with the KMT. 

By Denise Chong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lives of the Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

International bestselling author of The Concubine's Children, Denise Chong returns to the subject of her most beloved book, the lives and times of Canada's early Chinese families.
     In 2011, Denise Chong set out to collect the history of the earliest Chinese settlers in and around Ottawa, who made their homes far from any major Chinatown. Many would open cafes, establishments that once dotted the landscape across the country and were a monument to small-town Canada. This generation of Chinese immigrants lived at the intersection of the Exclusion Act in Canada, which divided families between here and China, and 2 momentous…


Book cover of Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking

Alison R. Marshall Author Of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba

From my list on to reimagine Chinatown.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese culture. My great uncle owned an import-export shop in 1920s Montreal and many of the things in his shop decorated my family home. An aunt who worked in Toronto’s Chinatown took me to see a Chinese opera performance and this began my journey to understand Chinese thought and culture first with an MA in Chinese poetry and then with a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies. After I learned that Sun Yatsen had visited Manitoba, where I had moved for work, my attention turned to Chinese nationalism. More than 15 years later, my research and work on KMT culture continues.

Alison's book list on to reimagine Chinatown

Alison R. Marshall Why did Alison love this book?

Racism is a dominant theme in my book and in historical work about Chinese Canadian history. Racist ideologies in the 1880s and 1890s drove the Chinese out of the United States and into urban and rural Canada. In Becoming Yellow, Keevak explains how the colour “yellow” developed to become a racial category used to describe people who were Chinese and to exclude them from the United States and Canada.  

By Michael Keevak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Yellow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In their earliest encounters with Asia, Europeans almost uniformly characterized the people of China and Japan as white. This was a means of describing their wealth and sophistication, their willingness to trade with the West, and their presumed capacity to become Christianized. But by the end of the seventeenth century the category of whiteness was reserved for Europeans only. When and how did Asians become "yellow" in the Western imagination? Looking at the history of racial thinking, Becoming Yellow explores the notion of yellowness and shows that this label originated not in early travel texts or objective descriptions, but in…


Book cover of The New Chinatown

Alison R. Marshall Author Of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba

From my list on to reimagine Chinatown.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese culture. My great uncle owned an import-export shop in 1920s Montreal and many of the things in his shop decorated my family home. An aunt who worked in Toronto’s Chinatown took me to see a Chinese opera performance and this began my journey to understand Chinese thought and culture first with an MA in Chinese poetry and then with a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies. After I learned that Sun Yatsen had visited Manitoba, where I had moved for work, my attention turned to Chinese nationalism. More than 15 years later, my research and work on KMT culture continues.

Alison's book list on to reimagine Chinatown

Alison R. Marshall Why did Alison love this book?

Today most people associate Chinatowns with restaurants and tourism. In the past and for many Chinese Canadians, Chinatown was a ghetto and place of exclusion. But for many Chinese and other first-generation migrants, Chinatown was simply home. It was where friends (and sometimes families) lived and socialized, operated businesses, and felt a sense of belonging through mutual support networks and devotion to Sun Yatsen at KMT and other political meetings and events. Peter Kwong’s The New Chinatown tells a complicated narrative of Chinese political, social, and cultural life and dispels many Chinatown stereotypes. In my book, I tried to tell a similar story of Chinese political and social lives that weren’t defined by Chinatown stereotypes.

By Peter Kwong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Chinatown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Newspapers today are filled with stories of corruption and strife in America's Chinatowns, reversing the popular view of Chinese Americans as a model minority of law-abiding, hard-working people whose diligent children end up in high-tech jobs. In The New Chinatown, Peter Kwong goes beyond the headlines in a compelling and detailed account of the political and cultural isolation of Chinese-American communities. This new edition offers a revised and updated text as well as a new chapter on Chinatown in the 1990s.


Book cover of Who Gets In: An Immigration Story

David S. Koffman Author Of No Better Home?: Jews, Canada, and the Sense of Belonging

From my list on Canadian Jewish life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised as both an anglophone Canadian and a diaspora Jew. After living in Montreal, Jerusalem, and New York for a total of about 15 years, I returned to my hometown of Toronto and took up the position of the J. Richard Shiff Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry at York University, where I work as a professor of history. I teach undergraduate students, graduate students, fellow academics, community leaders, and the wide public about all sorts of dimensions of this very religiously diverse, culturally diverse, socio-economically diverse, and politically diverse community of 400,000+ souls, with its 260+-year-old history. 

David's book list on Canadian Jewish life

David S. Koffman Why did David love this book?

Ravvin has written excellent works of fiction and literary scholarship. His book is a masterful blend of two genres: family biography and social history.

I found this book to be so engrossing I could barely put it down. It traces the author’s grandfather’s dogged saga to emigrate from Poland to Canada, to find some mooring amidst the precarity of being a new immigrant, a foreigner, and a Jew, and to try desperately to bring over his wife during a time when Canada’s immigration gates were closing.

I love this book’s ability to seamlessly alternate between deep archives-based history (how did the immigration labyrinth actually work and why was it designed that way?) and personal/ancestral memoir (what was it like for one human–of existential consequence for the author–to navigate that labyrinth?).

It's a remarkable story of one immigrant crisscrossing the country in the era that immediately preceded the much more frequently…

By Norman Ravvin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Gets In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One man's immigration to the Canadian Prairies in the early 1930s reveals the character of Canada today as sharply as it did long ago. In 1930, a young Jewish man, Yehuda Eisenstein, arrived in Canada from Poland to escape persecution and in the hopes of starting a new life for himself and his young family. Like countless other young European men who came to Canada from "non-preferred" countries, Yehuda was only granted entry because he claimed to be single, starting his Canadian life with a lie. He trusted that his wife and children would be able to follow after he…


Book cover of This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir in Halves

Julie Sedivy Author Of Memory Speaks: On Losing and Reclaiming Language and Self

From my list on immigration and identity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a language scientist and a writer, but most of all, a person who is smitten with language in all its forms. No doubt my fascination was shaped by my early itinerant life as a child immigrant between Czechoslovakia to Canada, with exposure to numerous languages along the way. I earned a PhD in linguistics and taught linguistics and psychology at Brown University and later, the University of Calgary, but I now spend most of my time writing for non-academic readers, integrating my scientific understanding of language with a love for its aesthetic possibilities.

Julie's book list on immigration and identity

Julie Sedivy Why did Julie love this book?

This is one of the most innovative and intriguing memoirs I have read. Its structure is inspired by the visual image of the line that runs through the Punjab region, partitioning Pakistan from India. The book is separated into halves: one half relates the stories of the author’s parents, who were born on opposite sides of the line, and the other presents the author’s own experiences and observations as a second-generation immigrant. Nothing about the design of the book indicates which half should be read first—a hint that the reader will be invited to consider the resonances running in both directions across the generations.

The theme of fragmentation and division is, paradoxically, the glue that binds the various elements of the book together. The author explores the arbitrary lines, imposed by historical and cultural forces, that divide people from each other and that split their selves into parts. The portrait…

By Madhur Anand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2020 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FOR NONFICTION

“Wondrously and elegantly written in language that astonishes and moves the reader…This is an important book: an emotional and intellectual tour de force.” —Jane Urquhart

An experimental memoir about Partition, immigration, and generational storytelling, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart weaves together the poetry of memory with the science of embodied trauma, using the imagined voices of the past and the vital authority of the present.

We begin with a man off balance: one in one thousand, the only child in town whose polio leads to partial paralysis.…


Book cover of Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945

Valerie Knowles Author Of Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2015

From my list on capturing Canada’s colourful immigration history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Canadian freelance writer, who has a BA in honours history from Smith College, an MA in history from McGill University, and a Bachelor in Journalism from Carleton University. As I have a special interest in Canadian history and Canadian biography, I have authored books in these subject areas. These include an award-winning biography of Sir William Van Horne, a polymath and railway general who pushed through the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Cairine Wilson. Canada’s first woman senator, who was celebrated for her work with refugees in the 1930s and 1940s, and a best-selling survey of Canadian immigration and immigration policy, Strangers At Our Gates.

Valerie's book list on capturing Canada’s colourful immigration history

Valerie Knowles Why did Valerie love this book?

Although the English are among the largest immigrant groups contributing to the development of modern Canada, their story remained, for the most part, untold until the publication of this book in 2015. In this carefully researched work of popular history, Marilyn Barber and Murray Watson recount the personal experiences of English immigrants who elected to come to Canada between the 1940s and 1970s, England’s last major wave of emigration. Most of these postwar English immigrants thought they were going to a country whose language and culture would be familiar. Instead, like other immigrants, they contended with separation from loved ones back home while adapting to a new landscape and culture. Moreover, although they did not appear visibly different from their neighbours, these newcomers were immediately labelled “foreigners” as soon as they started to speak.

By Marilyn Barber, Murray Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invisible Immigrants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite being one of the largest immigrant groups contributing to the development of modern Canada, the story of the English has been all but untold. In Invisible Immigrants, Barber and Watson document the experiences of English-born immigrants who chose to come to Canada during England's last major wave of emigration between the 1940s and the 1970s. Engaging life story oral histories reveal the aspirations, adventures, occasional naivete, and challenges of these hidden immigrants. Postwar English immigrants believed they were moving to a familiar British country. Instead, like other immigrants, they found they had to deal with separation from home and…


Book cover of How to Pronounce Knife: Stories

Rabindranath Maharaj Author Of The Amazing Absorbing Boy

From my list on for believing you've found a home.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a large extended family in a rural district in Trinidad. Frequently, as a young boy, I sought escape in the forested area at the back of the house. There, I would craft childish stories and fantasize about becoming a writer. This wish was granted after I moved to Canada in the 1990s. As an immigrant writer here, most of my books are about movement, dispossession, and finding a home. So, in a sense, I have always been running away from, while at the same time, searching for a home. This tension has given birth to most of my books.

Rabindranath's book list on for believing you've found a home

Rabindranath Maharaj Why did Rabindranath love this book?

In these stripped-down stories, the minute observations are just as significant as the broader strokes the writer uses to depict the lives of refugees, people at the margins. Told mostly from the perspective of a Laotian adolescent, the characters are each trying to understand the steps they must take to fit into their new barricaded lives. In spite of the claustrophobia that encloses the characters, the stories are funny and tender. 

By Souvankham Thammavongsa,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Pronounce Knife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE 'Spellbinding' i 'Breathtaking' Elle 'Powerhouses of feeling and depth' Mary Gaitskill 'Sharp and vital' Daisy Johnson An ex-boxer turned nail salon worker falls for a pair of immaculate hands; a mother and daughter harvest earthworms in the middle of the night; a country music-obsessed housewife abandons her family for fantasy; and a young girl's love for her father transcends language. In this stunning debut, Souvankham Thammavongsa captures the day-to-day lives of immigrants and refugees in a nameless city, illuminating hopes, disappointments, love affairs, and above all, the pursuit of a place to belong


Book cover of The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation

Melita M. Garza Author Of They Came to Toil: Newspaper Representations of Mexicans and Immigrants in the Great Depression

From my list on how media makes and unmakes Mexican Americans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalism historian who sees an old newspaper the way Alice saw the looking glass, as a portal to a place where things wind up beyond the imaginable. In comparing English- and Spanish-language journalism, I examine how people from the same time and place live distinct constructed realities, separated by their news source looking glass. I aim to recenter the journalism of marginalized groups in the American experience and in media history. After more than 20 years at major U.S. news organizations and 10 years in academia, often as the first or only Mexican American—I’ve honed the ability to see from both sides of the glass.

Melita's book list on how media makes and unmakes Mexican Americans

Melita M. Garza Why did Melita love this book?

Chavez modernizes the Mexican miscreant myth, explaining how vivid TV news scenes of immigrants inspire visceral reactions.

He argues that the emotions inspired by media coverage of vigilante groups rounding up immigrants are a potent part of “the spectacle” that plays out on the news. Chavez also gives the xenophobic storytelling of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century an updated name: The Latino Threat Narrative.

The book powerfully picks apart ideas posited by the late Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington, among others, that suggest that Mexican Americans won’t assimilate, making them perennial “others” who threaten American democracy. Another thing I like about this book is that it includes a chapter on Latinas and how media coverage of Latina fertility and sexuality plays into racist stereotyping.

By Leo Chavez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Latino Threat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

News media and pundits too frequently perpetuate the notion that Latinos, particularly Mexicans, are an invading force bent on reconquering land once their own and destroying the American way of life. In this book, Leo R. Chavez contests this assumption's basic tenets, offering facts to counter the many fictions about the "Latino threat." With new discussion about anchor babies, the DREAM Act, and recent anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona and other states, this expanded second edition critically investigates the stories about recent immigrants to show how prejudices are used to malign an entire population-and to define what it means to be…


Book cover of Captivity Beyond Prisons: Criminalization Experiences of Latina (Im)migrants

Sarah Tosh Author Of The Immigration Law Death Penalty: Aggravated Felonies, Deportation, and Legal Resistance

From my list on challenge the “good immigrant/bad immigrant” binary.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I was acutely aware of the way my non-white and non-citizen classmates were treated differently by police and other authorities. Studying racial inequality in the War on Drugs as an undergraduate and graduate-level Sociology student, I began to understand the many links between the criminal and immigration systems, and how often the stories of criminalized people are left behind. I became committed to bringing attention to the racially inequalities that shape these systems. In doing so, I aim to uplift resistance to the “good immigrant/bad immigrant” binary that frames non-citizens with criminal records as undeserving and disposable.

Sarah's book list on challenge the “good immigrant/bad immigrant” binary

Sarah Tosh Why did Sarah love this book?

Captivity Beyond Prisons blew me away in its explanations of criminalized deportation and the “good immigrant/bad immigrant binary” that has all too often defined immigration rights advocacy.

While familiar with this binary, I had never seen it so clearly explained before reading this book, particularly in its arguments about how women, imprisoned, and gender-non-conforming immigrants are commonly categorized as undeserving and expendable.

The included stories of Latina women impacted by intertwining systems of immigration and criminal justice enforcement affected me greatly, as did the argument that frameworks of prison abolition—which view all people as deserving of humanity, including those deemed “criminals”—should be further adopted in the fight for immigrant rights.

This book is distinctive in its focus on non-citizen women affected by the criminal justice system, which I have rarely seen elsewhere.

By Martha D. Escobar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Captivity Beyond Prisons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Today the United States leads the world in incarceration rates. The country increasingly relies on the prison system as a "fix" for the regulation of societal issues. Captivity Beyond Prisons is the first full-length book to explicitly link prisons and incarceration to the criminalization of Latina (im)migrants.

Starting in the 1990s, the United States saw tremendous expansion in the number of imprisoned (im)migrants, specifically Latinas/os. Consequently, there was also an increase in the number of deportations. In addition to regulating society, prisons also serve as a reproductive control strategy, both in preventing female inmates from having children and by separating…


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