For many of the Nigerian immigrants of my generation that I knew, coming to America was not so positively transformative. Many of these immigrants were people with middle class backgrounds and sensibilities – lawyers, doctors, university teachers, or the children of these – who were forced to lead a working class and marginal existence upon arrival in America. Immigration was therefore for them, at least initially, a fall in status and the experience was to some extent embittering. And many of them carried, at least initially, [a] sense of injury.
Beneath its satiric humour, intermittent narrative levity, and its delusively uncomplicated plot, Ike Oguine's novelistic debut A Squatter's Tale (2000) emerges as a serious, deftly conceived project that has only recently begun to elicit a welcome, rigorous critical inquiry. The hitherto scarcity of scholarly attention to the work was rather unfortunate, given the currency of its ancillary thesis of globalization, as well as our perennial, transcontinental and often charged conversations on the interlocked subjects of immigration, nation, nationality, religion, class, gender, identity, subjectivity, race and power. Most momentous, however, is that the novel does not just emphasize the important but largely under-fictionalized topic of a first-generation, postcolonial African immigrant's experience in the United States.
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