Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interview with Marina Budhos

Marina Budhos is an author of several books, some fiction and some that isn't. She likes writing a lot about different cultures in a new way. I hope you enjoy this interview.

1. The view on immigrants has been rather negative for the past few years and your young adult books focus on that. What are some posistive changes that you would like to see for immigrants?
It’s interesting—last night President Obama mentioned the most important thing that affects some young immigrants—and that is allowing undocumented youth to have a path to American citizenship, which is called the Dream Act. They are in a twilight limbo, having grown up here, been educated, and yet they have no future, no way to contribute as Americans. I’d like to see us do something about that.
As well, I’d like us, as a country to remember and make use of the extraordinary energy and spirit that immigrants bring to our culture. We lose sight of that, especially as many of our towns and cities have experienced frictions with our changing demographics. A small example: for the past two weeks I have been interviewing women to take care of my elderly mother-in-law. Nearly all have been immigrant women and I have been so impressed with their willingness to work hard, to offer compassion and steadiness, for this most vital of jobs. What I’d like us to remember is the humanity of our immigrants—how much they have risked, how much they are willing to do to be here.

2. Tell Us We're Home Focuses on finding the American Dream. What are some things that many citizens take for granted that immigrants find?
The most basic is simply a sense of home, of place, and belonging. I think from a teenage perspective, it’s an ease in the culture, and very often a more easy-going attitude on the parts of their parents—they’re allowed to do a lot more, even simply hang out after school. They may be experiencing their own teenage angst, but they basically know what the rules are, even what their future might look like. All of this is being invented by an immigrant family, and sometimes an immigrant teenager is the one who is paving the way for their parents. So they can’t take for granted that their parents even know how to do simple things, such as deal with a government bureaucracy, or a school, or give them advice on what’s ahead or even how to get the American Dream. Sometimes, for some immigrants, it’s that they are working so hard just to survive, to get their toehold, it’s difficult to really see where the American Dream lies.
More recently there are some immigrant groups that have experienced real pain and stigmatizing. Obviously Muslims after 9/11, where they often made to feel as if they are not a part of America, are somehow outside, different, perhaps dangerous—or they are deemed to have ‘divided loyalties.’ In some parts of the country, where the demographics have tilted, Latinos have become the targets of tremendous harassment. All of this, of course, contributes to a general sense that they are not quite ‘American’ and thus not part of the American Dream.

3. On your website, it says that you have traveled a lot. Where are some of your favorite places to travel to?
I have just returned from a long trip with my family to India, where I have been many times, and also, where I have lived. It is one of my absolute favorite places, and for me, besides my personal connection, it is like watching a photograph develop in astonishing ways, since the country is going through so much fascinating change. I also love the cities of London and Paris, which I have been fortunate to visit in the past year as well. Next up, I wish to see more of Asia, especially given all the breathtaking transformations going on there.
What are some of your favorite books?
Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston; Ragtime, by E.R. Doctorow, God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, Holes, by Louis Sachar (a perfect book, in my opinion) Varied enough?
5. Is there anything that you would like to add?
I guess what I’d like to add is that I hope all readers are willing to open their eyes to experiences and stories that may be a little different than theirs. Or that in reading about those who are ‘on the outside,’ they also learn a little bit about themselves and what they take for granted. Or even, that those characters who seem to be coming from such a wildly different perspective—in fact, perhaps they have a bit more in common than they realize.
I also have a copy of Tell Us We're Home for giveaway. Fill out the form below.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic interview, really interesting questions and answers! Thanks for the insight!


Thanks for visiting. Every comment creates a smile.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin