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An account of an immigrant family's struggle and the lessons learned about diversity
Writing at the height of her powers, The Bad Immigrant cements Sefi Atta’s place as one of the best storytellers of our time. Through the voice of her first male protagonist, Lukmon, Atta peels away nuanced layers to expose the realities of migration from Nigeria to the USA, such as the strains of adjustment and the stifling pressure to conform without loss of identity.
Covering a wide range of issues, including interracial and intra-racial tensions, and familial strains exacerbated in a new geographic and cultural environment, this novel is a thoroughgoing exposition of the many challenges that confront a modern migrant, told from the perspective of a protagonist whose sophistication and educational prowess is no guarantee of success in a country that is prone to valuing conformity over merit. Atta grounds Lukmon’s narrative in a wide array of cultural and literary allusions that testify to the author’s wit and sophisticated management of complicated matters in a manner at once erudite and accessible.
In The Bad Immigrant, Atta deftly drives the narrative forward with repartee that forges deep intimacy with the characters and engenders sympathy for all of them, even those we find infuriating.