There are few subjects in American life that prompt more discussion and controversy than immigration. But do we really understand it? In This Land Is Our Land, the renowned author Suketu Mehta attacks the issue head-on. Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny.
As he explains, the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. Mehta juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of laborers, nannies, and others, from Dubai to Queens, and explains why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change reshape large parts of the planet, it is little surprise that borders have become so porous.
But Mehta also stresses the destructive legacies of colonialism and global inequality on large swaths of the world: When today’s immigrants are asked, “Why are you here?” they can justly respond, “We are here because you were there.” And now that they are here, as Mehta demonstrates, immigrants bring great benefits, enabling countries and communities to flourish.
Impassioned, rigorous, and richly stocked with memorable stories and characters, This Land Is Our Land is a timely and necessary intervention, and a literary polemic of the highest order.
"A meticulously researched and deeply felt corrective to the public narrative of who today’s migrants are, why they are coming, and what economic and historical forces have propelled them from their homes into faraway lands . . . This Land Is Our Land reads like an impassioned survey course on migration, laying bare the origins of mass migration in searing clarity . . . well argued, cathartic and abundantly sourced."—Lauren Markham, The New York Times Book Review
“There are few literary voices today who explore the intricacies of human migration better than Suketu Mehta . . . Mehta delivers an emotional, timely polemic railing against this trend of fear, discrimination and hatred that has gripped so many countries, especially ours . . . Pulling from history, personal experiences and intimate profiles, Mehta examines the backlash to immigration, what’s behind it and why we have good reasons to be hopeful about the future.”—Sarojini Seupersad, BookPage
"Written 'in sorrow and anger,' this is a brilliant and urgently necessary book, eloquently making the case against bigotry and for all of us migrants—what we are not, who we are, and why we deserve to be welcomed, not feared."—Salman Rushdie
"A powerful, passionate, angry, and hopeful cry for sanity and justice by one of our finest writers. Mehta's heart-felt book is a much-needed and potent antidote to the anti-migrant rhetoric that has grown so threateningly loud of late. Let them come!"—Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist
"Suketu Mehta has written a burning indictment of anti-immigrant hypocrisy, and an affirmation of hope in the real America—the America where we treat each other as human beings with a common future, and not a faceless problem to be solved by walls and barbed wire. Rousing and immensely readable, it is an anthem for all of us."—Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Lowland
"Suketu Mehta is one of our finest thinkers and writers on the subject of immigration. What begins as a journey that mixes just the right amount of humor, anger and bewilderment at the state of our nation, ends up with a surprising double-shot of hope. This is the rare book that is pragmatic and unsentimental, and yet oddly uplifting."—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success
"Mehta has written a compassionate and powerful plea on behalf of migrants that also reveals the deep forces that propel them on their journeys. He exposes the demeaning ways that migrants are treated around the world, and the very human aspirations that may lead them to accept this dehumanization. In so doing, he gives us a searing indictment of those like Donald Trump who do so much to make their plight even worse."—Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics
“This is a fiercely and well-told story by a patriotic American about the value and challenges of our most inspiring heroes: Our immigrants.”—Bob Kerrey, 35th Governor of Nebraska and former United States Senator from Nebraska
"A fearless and brutally honest look at the rise and inevitable fall of national borders and those who seek to enforce them. This Land is Our Land lays bare the structural inequalities forcing millions of migrants to flee their countries of origin, and persuasively contends that powerful nations have an obligation to welcome those they have uprooted."—Becca Heller, Refugee Rights Lawyer and MacArthur Fellow
“An intelligent, well-reasoned case for freedom of movement in an era of walls and fences.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This heavily researched and passionately argued work deconstructs American misbeliefs about immigration . . . The result is a profound combination of disturbing, convincing, clear-eyed, and hopeful.”—Booklist
“Pulitzer Prize–finalist Mehta (The Secret Life of Cities) displays his flair for evocative storytelling in this passionate argument for migration . . . Every scene is a joy to read, and Mehta’s passion lights his prose throughout.”—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
A PLANET ON THE MOVE
One day in the 1980s, my maternal grandfather was sitting in a park in suburban London. An elderly British man came up to him and wagged a finger in his face. “Why are you here?” the man...