Lula, a twenty-six-year-old Albanian woman living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, hopes to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job as caretaker to Zeke, a rebellious high school senior in suburban New Jersey, it seems that the security, comfort, and happiness of the American dream may finally be within reach. Her new boss, Mister Stanley, an idealistic college professor turned Wall Street executive, assumes that Lula is a destitute refugee of the Balkan wars. He enlists his childhood friend Don Settebello, a hotshot lawyer who prides himself on defending political underdogs, to straighten out Lula's legal situation. In true American fashion, everyone gets what he wants and feels good about it.
But things take a more sinister turn when Lula's Albanian "brothers" show up in a brand-new black Lexus SUV. Hoodie, Leather Jacket, and the Cute One remind her that all Albanians are family, but what they ask of her is no small favor. Lula's new American life suddenly becomes more complicated as she struggles to find her footing as a stranger in a strange new land. Is it possible that her new American life is not so different from her old Albanian one?
Set in the aftermath of 9/11, My New American Life offers a vivid, darkly humorous, bitingly real portrait of a particular moment in history, when a nation's dreams and ideals gave way to a culture of cynicism, lies, and fear. Beneath its high comic surface, the novel is a more serious consideration of immigration, of what it was like to live through the Bush-Cheney years, and of what it means to be an American.
About the Author
Francine Prose is the critically acclaimed author of nineteen novels, including the National Book Award Finalist Blue Angel and My New American Life. She has written three other novels for young adults: After, winner of the California Young Reader Medal, an IRA/CBC Young Adults' Choice, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; Bullyville, a PW Best Book and Book Sense Children's Pick; and her most recent, Touch. She is also the author of two picture books, Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig and Rhino, Rhino, Sweet Potato. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, Francine Prose was Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in New York City.
“An illuminating and ultimately upbeat look at America’s immigrant situation that all fiction readers will enjoy.”
-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Prose is dazzling in her sixteenth book of spiky fiction, a fast-flowing, bittersweet, brilliantly satirical immigrant story that subtly embodies the cultural complexity and political horrors of the Balkans and Bush-Cheney America.”
-Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Utterly charming. Savvy about the shady practices of both US immigration authorities and immigrants themselves... Entertaining, light yet not trivial, a joy to read.”
“Prose’s characters in MY NEW AMERICAN LIFE are complex and brilliantly drawn (culturally distinct but without the usual clichés).”
-Simon Van Booy, Bomb Magazine
“Nothing is beyond the artistic reach of Francine Prose”
“A tangy mixture of satire and sentiment. . . . Ms. Prose uses her heroine’s outside status to make a lot of funny . . . observations about the cosseted life of well-to-do Americans.”
-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Prose . . . is, as always, sharply intelligent.”
“Prose succeeds by transforming anxiety into compassion—it’s a little lever that gets tripped when we truly imagine what another person feels.”
-Los Angeles Times
“There has been a lot written about the Bush and Cheney days, but rarely from such an amusing perspective . . . at once honest, complicated, sexy, funny and—ultimately—uplifting.”
“A superb novel . . . a wickedly entertaining read. . . . Prose is on top of her game . . . the fluidity of the prose surpassing, I think, her work in Blue Angel.”
“Prose spins the many straws of American culture into a golden tale, shimmering with hilarious, if blistering, satire.”
-Helen Simonson, Washington Post
“My New American Life is—happily—vintage Prose: cheerfully pessimistic, smart, funny, with characters unnervingly spot-on in their stages of outrage, denial, malaise or disillusionment.”
“A fast-moving novel . . . [that] brings together cultural satire, mystery, a psychosexual thriller, and political outrage. . . . Exceptionally entertaining, fun to read in its sentences, incidents, scenes.”
-Michael Dirda, New York Review of Books
“She’s a perfect observer of American life in the opening decade of the 21st century. . . . Wry . . . witty . . . a book that brims with smart surprises.”
-Ron Carlson, New York Times Book Review
“Prose is in her sweet spot as a nimble chronicler of contemporary culture.”
“In My New American Life, Francine Prose cracks open that old chestnut about the immigrant reinvention experience and injects, yes, new life into it.”
“Fun and funny,...a satire of immigration and its discontents...”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“Prose’s real aim is to characterize and caricature modern American life, mostly in a gentle way that will leave readers smarter than they were before...”
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch