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Novels and memoirs and migration

Migration A–Z


  1. Yifen T. Beus

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm399

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Beus, Y. T. 2013. Novels and memoirs and migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Migrant literature or literature of migration refers to writings about or by migrants. The United Nations' definition of a migrant or migration relies heavily on the geopolitically defined boundaries to describe human movement (UNESCO, n.d.). In literary studies, however, the concept of a migrant can be broadly conceived to include an individual who moves, voluntarily or not (such as an exile or a refugee), temporarily or permanently, “from one country, locality, place of residence, etc. to settle in another” (OED, n.d.). Although the duration of the migrants' sojourns varies, the lasting impacts on them often invoke sentiments that inspire such writings. Migrant writings often foreground the experiences of migrants during and after their movements and typically reflect the sociopolitical as well as cultural conditions of their countries of origin and of the new host locations. Issues of equality and human rights, cultural and linguistic identity, nostalgia, the notion of a homeland, and even the definition of nation are among topics and themes most frequently treated in migrant literature. This essay will highlight the following issues and characteristics that are central to the study of migrant writing, with a focus on the novel and memoirs: genre definition and boundaries, key literary movements and styles, major themes and motifs, and developing trends.


  • cultural diversity;
  • immigration;
  • globalization;
  • transnationalism;
  • poverty