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Edited by Maggie Goh and Craig Stephenson
Oakville (Ont.), Rubicon Publishing, 1989. 142pp, paper, $1650, ISBN 0- 921156-10-3. Distributed by Copp Clark Pitman. CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by John D. Crawford

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

This is a varied collection of writings on Canadian immigration. There is considerable variety among the content, which includes essays, short stories, poems and an interview. In the first section the trepidation experienced during the actual movement to another country is considered; in the second, the concept of the marginal person, who has divided loyalties and belongs both to the old and the new location without having a complete commitment to either, is the subject; a final section attempts to identify those who, while committed to their new country, remain hyphenated because of the impossibility of losing the influence of their past.

As with any collection, particular items will prove relevant and attractive to individual readers. I found myself more comfortable with the prose than with the poetry and I found the items from Asia to be the most satisfying, perhaps because the change in environment for Asian migrants is more dramatic. The collection does identify many of the problems experienced by immigrants in Canada. In some examples, such as one concerning racism, the description is explicit. In others, the reader must look beneath the surface and discover the more subtle problems created by migration to another country.

The total effect of the book is to identify the immigrant as someone who will remain in some sense an exile from the natal country and can only be separated in physical terms from a place and a time buried deep within the psyche.

Immigrants may not deliberately change locations for the benefit of their children, but it is these children and their children who will fully become Canadians. The impact on the immigrant takes a wide variety of forms: some immigrants take the best of two worlds, acquiring an added dimension through involvement with their new country; others remain divided, and are unable to take any advantage other than in purely economic terms.

There is a great need for an understanding of the difficulties experienced by immigrants, and this collection will be helpful in meeting this need.

John D. Crawford, Marigold School, Victoria, B.C.

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