Read Excerpts by the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2022 Finalists

The ethos of the modern world is defined by immigrants. Their stories have always been an essential component of our cultural consciousness, from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Isabel Allende, from Milan Kundera to Yiyun Li. In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and dedication we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be global citizens. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these boundary-crossing stories reach the broadest possible audience.

Now in its seventh year, the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing supports the voices of immigrant writers whose works straddle cultural divides, embrace the multicultural makeup of our society, and interrogate questions of identity in a global society. This prize awards $10,000 and publication with Restless Books to a debut writer. This year’s judges, Tiphanie Yanique, Deepak Unnikrishnan, and Ilan Stavans, have selected the below four finalists. Click on the links in each section to read excerpts from their books.
 
 

Nobody Here Plays Little Kid Games by Geimy Colón

Image of Geimy Colon's headshot.

A dark and fascinating take on the intersectionality of gender, age, and migration, Geimy Colón’s short story collection, Nobody Here Plays Little Kid Games, is a coming-of-age tale written in lush and graceful prose. Set in an unnamed Latin American country, each story begins with children innocently climbing trees, playing marbles with their friends, and experiencing their first kisses. Colón then reveals a more sinister reality as we observe the children replicate the violence of colorism, colonialism, and oppression that surrounds them. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Colón writes stories that oscillate between the realms of innocence and the loss of innocence, refusing to shy away from the darker aspects of immigrant childhood. Nobody Here Plays Little Kid Games illustrates what occurs in the absence of adults—and what occurs because, and in spite, of them.

Read the excerpt.

 

Between This World and the Next by Praveen Herat

Image pof Praveen Herat's headshot.

Set in 1998, Between This World and the Next tells the story of Fearless, a burnt-out British photojournalist hardened by a long career in war-torn countries, and Song, a Cambodian woman who has been physically and psychologically beset by the violence in her country. When Song disappears, leaving only a mysterious videotape behind, Fearless must navigate a dangerous network of shady power brokers, transnational kingpins, sex traffickers, and arms dealers, uncovering a sprawling network of criminality and corruption in a newly post-Soviet world. A passionate exploration of power, poverty, and greed, Between This World and the Next challenges our own complicity as passive observers when exposed to a constant stream of media depicting suffering across the world. Born in London to Sri Lankan parents, Praveen Herat brings a sharp new perspective to the global ramifications of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the hidden criminal networks that impact our lives in ways beyond our reckoning.

Read the excerpt.

 

Craft by Ananda Lima

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A wild and surrealistic story collection that pays homage to Kafka and Cortázar, Ananda Lima’s Craft seeks to disrupt reductive understandings of both the immigrant experience and the art and craft of writing. Blending autofiction and magical realism, Lima creates characters as enigmatic as they are endearing. From stories of women who devour miniature Americans from vending machines and are haunted by ghosts, to the writer’s recreation of her own battles with know-it-all editors, Craft boasts a cast of characters that won’t easily be forgotten. A first-generation immigrant from Brasilia, Brazil, Lima crafts innovative work that challenges traditional North American ideas about how stories should operate, what makes an immigrant narrative, how the intellectual is placed in opposition to the emotional, and whom these ideals ultimately serve.

Read the excerpt. 

 

A Bag Full of Stones by A. Molotkov

Image of A. Molotkov's headshot.

This savvy, intelligent, and delightful detective story follows pair of investigators in Portland, Oregon—a Russian immigrant man and a Black woman—as they try to solve a series of hate-crime murders. Told in the alternating perspectives of the investigators and the ghosts of the murdered immigrant victims, this wild whodunnit set in an America tranquilized by sectarian politics brings (back) to life the voices of those who are often overlooked or dismissed. With a focus on characters struggling to reconcile their distorted worldviews with reality, A Bag Full of Stones encapsulates how confused the notion of justice has become in a nation more divided than ever. Skillfully blending different lexicons, points of view, and narrative structures, A. Molotkov, a writer born in the former USSR, showcases the multifarious, inventive possibilities of immigrant writing in the United States.

Read the excerpt.

Read Excerpts by the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2022 Finalists

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