Immigration and Otherness

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 UAA and Alaska Pacific University named their first joint Books of the Year in 2006-07 as part of an on-going partnership between the two universities to engage our faculty and students in constructive dialogue about sensitive political, religious, racial, and cultural issues. The project, Encountering Controversy, is part of the Ford Foundation's Difficult Dialogues initiative.

The Tortilla Curtain

The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle When wealthy nature writer Delaney Mossbacher collides with illegal immigrant Candido Rincon on the Topanga Canyon freeway, the stage is set for a larger collision between the rich and the poor who occupy the same L.A. canyon but find themselves on opposite sides of the tortilla curtain.  This gritty novel explores social, political, and economic issues concerning immigration, discrimination, responsibility, and the darker sides of the American Dream.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down 
by Anne Fadiman
This powerful book tells the story of Lia Lee, the infant daughter of Hmong immigrants in California, who was born with a severe seizure disorder, known in the West as epilepsy and to Lia’s parents as qaug dab peg (“the spirit catches you and you fall down”). From the moment Lia arrives in a California emergency room, cultural differences and linguistic miscommunication begin to drive a rift between Lia’s loving parents and her well-intentioned doctors. The tragedy that unfolds opens the door to conversations about cultural difference, the modern immigrant experience, and the limits of Western medicine.

Reader's Guide for The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Past Curriculum Examples