I just finished reading The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick. It’s about a family exiled from a parallel dimension who end up as refugees in post-9/11 Nevada. The blurb on Amazon compares it to Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, but I think that’s going a tad too far (especially since that book is one of my favourites).
Frankly, the science fiction aspect of The Necessary Beggar doesn’t figure that strongly into the story. Ghosts and reincarnation figure very prominently in it so it could actually be more easily classified in the fantasy genre.
To be honest, the alternate dimension thing could have been cut out completely and it would have worked out just as well by being a magical realist story about refugees from like Afghanistan or Somalia. But doing the story that way requires a lot more research to get the culture right and I can’t help thinking that was the main reason the family came from a made-up country.
If you’ve read immigrant stories before then a lot of this book will be familiar – it’s got migrants going through the everyday trauma of navigating a foreign culture, feeling an aching and unquenchable yearning for a lost home, clashes between tradition and American modernity, that kind of thing. I feel like there’s a Salman Rushdie novel in here struggling to break through.