Home and Homeland: The Canadian Immigrant Experience


229 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-201-60219-9
DDC C810.8'0352





Edited by Peter Fanning and Maggie Goh
Illustrations by Laurie Lafrance
Reviewed by Beverly Rasporich

Beverly Rasporich is an associate professor at the University of Calgary
and author of Dance of the Sexes: Art and Gender in the Fiction of Alice


That famous McLuhan cliché about the medium being the message was the
first idea that came to mind as I began to read this book. In my
opinion, it is poorly presented, so much so that it challenged me to
read it. I expect that Home and Homeland is meant as a textbook for
secondary-school students, since the type, the illustrations, and the
packaged arrangements of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are
suggestively childish, in the way that textbooks sometimes are. The
material, however, is decidedly mature. Among the contributors are such
established and celebrated authors from the Canadian literary mainstream
as Susanna Moodie, Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Livesay, Fredelle Maynard,
Alden Nowlan, and Naim Kattan.

What these authors are writing about is the Canadian immigrant
experience. What they are contributing to is an underlying concept of
the text, that of multicultural Canada, as well as to the overriding
message, that of ethnic understanding and racial tolerance. The
selections illustrate the multiplicity of ethnic experience in Canada.
Some pieces are penned by some of Canada’s best-known authors (e.g.,
C.D. Minni, Walter Bauer, and Neil Bissoondath), who take as their
subjects particular cultural groups. There are lesser-known voices here
as well, some of them writing eloquently and movingly about immigrant
dilemmas in Canada, based on the experiences, among others, of South-
and East-Asian Canadians.

If the mature reader can move beyond the sense that “lessons” must
be taken from this text, there are some excellent pieces of poetry and
prose to be discovered. I have always found Andy Suknaski’s work to be
particularly fine. Although he is not of Asian ancestry, his “Chinese
Camp, Kamloops (circa 1883)” is a wonderful narrative poem. The theme
of home/homeland with all of its tensions is obviously meant to define
the presentation of the immigrant experience in this collection.
Clearly, this theme is valuable as one means of conceptualizing
immigrant life and exploring the heart and psyche of the newcomer to


“Home and Homeland: The Canadian Immigrant Experience,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/13462.