Successful writers that were migrants

Going to live far from your country of origin is a complicated decision that can be full of doubts and fears. Not knowing if we will succeed or not in a new city is a very natural fear that any migrant person can suffer. 

But leaving your country of origin, whether for work or personal reasons, is not a sign of failure, and this is demonstrated by the success that these writers had when they decided to try their luck outside their native country. 

Colum McCann

This Dublin-born Irish writer tops the list of authors who have succeeded abroad. A New York resident since 1986, McCann writes fiction novels and has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career, most notably Irish Awards. He is currently still active and promoting the last book he published in 2020, Apeirogon. This author not only writes novels and stories, but has also participated in many essays and newspaper reports. 

Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is a British-Nigerian writer of novels, short stories and essays. She was born and raised in Nigeria, but her higher education was in the UK, France and the US. The author has not only novels and short stories among her most notable works, but also personal essays, book reviews, and detailed profiles. She is also an active member of a number of organizations that particularly support and amplify young writers and female voices. Her most famous work, In Dependence (2008), was chosen by the UK’s largest bookstore chain as its featured book for Black History Month. 

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Max Aub 

Max Aub was a Spanish writer of French and German origin. After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) he went into exile in Mexico, the country from which he took nationality and where he lived until his death. Considered one of the most important Spanish writers in exile in Spanish literature, Max Aub had to flee Spain for political reasons despite his literary success in the country. Since then, all his works were published in Mexico and he was unable to return to Spain. He wrote both poetry and essays or novels, and his most famous work, The Magic Labyrinth (1943-1968), is a very accurate vision of the Spanish Civil War and a criticism of it.

Isabel Allende 

This Chilean writer of Peruvian origin is considered the most widely read living writer in the world of the Spanish language. Niece of former Chilean president Salvador Allende, the writer and her family had to flee to Venezuela after the coup that gave way to the military dictatorship that besieged the country from 1973 to 1990 due to the murder of her uncle.

Allende wrote her best-known novel, The House of the Spirits (1982), which is one of the most important Latin American magical realism novels of the 20th century and was brought to the big screen in 1993. The writer, who currently resides in California, has won numerous awards and is currently a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Sujatha Gidla

Sujatha Gidla is an Indian-American author known for her book Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India. She was born in Andhra Pradesh and moved to the United States in 1990. In 2017, she published her best-known novel, a memoir that shocked the world by exposing the reality of the caste system in modern India.

The writer in her non-fiction novel discussed the fact that many people who live in metropolitan areas do not realize that a large part of India is still dealing with untouchability. According to Gidla, until she moved to the US at the age of 26, she didn’t believe it was possible not to be judged by her caste, so she decided to publish her experience for those who still believe that the caste system is a problem of the past. 

Viet Thanh Nguyen

This author was born in Ban Mê Thuột, Vietnam, in 1971, the son of refugees from North Vietnam who moved south in 1954. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, his family fled to the United States and settled in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, which was one of four American camps housing refugees from Vietnam. He is currently a college professor and lives in Pasadena with his family. His first fictional novel, The Sympathizer, was published in 2015 by Grove Press/Atlantic and won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The novel is a critique of the stereotyped view of the Vietnam War that exists in the US and its film culture. 

Migrating can be a very difficult step for some people, but, as these authors have shown, it does not have to mean failure. Did you know any of these authors? 

Miriam Font
Miriam Font

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