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Skirball Cultural Center

2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 - (310) 440-4500


Skirball Summer Book Groups: Immigrant Literature

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This summer, Skirball Book Groups look at contemporary immigration stories from three different cultures and genres.

At each meeting, under the direction of a professional book group facilitator, participants learn about the author’s background and explore the book together, engaging in lively, stimulating conversation. Participants must read the book prior to each class session.


June 25, July 23, August 20
1:30–3:00 p.m.
3 sessions


June 25, July 23, August 20
7:30–9:00 p.m.
3 sessions


Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
Born in Leningrad in 1972, Gary Shytengart came to the United States seven years later. His decision at age five to become a writer led his disappointed mother to dub him “Failurchka,” an English/Russian fusion meaning “little failure.” Shteyngart’s new memoir, Little Failure, described as “straightforwardly soulful” by the Washington Post, depicts his immigrant experience and the journey of his writing career with self-deprecating humor and candid insight.


The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut novel, The Namesake, is a moving family drama that illuminates the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize–winning author’s signature themes: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, and the tangled ties between generations. The novel follows the Ganguli family from their traditional life in Calcutta to a new life in America, and chronicles the struggles of the first-generation son as he navigates his way through comic detours, conflicting loyalties, and troublesome love affairs. An insightful exploration of how our ancestry defines who we are.


The Boat by Nam Le
The seven stories in Vietnamese-born Australian writer Nam Le’s accomplished book The Boat take us across the globe, from a Colombian slum to the streets of Tehran to a foundering vessel in the China Sea. The book, described as “remarkable” by the New York Times, is at turns clever, ironic, moving, and raw. Le won the Dylan Thomas Prize for this stunning debut collection.

Instructor: Taly Ravid is completing a PhD in English at UCLA, where she specializes in contemporary American literature. She teaches a range of literature courses at UCLA including “Post-War American Fiction” and “The American Novel.” Ravid is winner of the 2012–2013 Skirball Fellowship in Modern Jewish Studies. She is the daughter of immigrants.


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