WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

An Immigrant's Tale is simply the story of an immigrant, an immigrant family, or a refugee coping with life in a new nation. A very common setting is late 19th or early 20th century America, with a heavy emphasis on the American Dream, but this applies to any time and country. A recent theme is the plight of illegal aliens and migrant workers from Mexico working in America.

Typically leads to overcoming a language barrier, instances of the Funny Foreigner, and Generational Sagas. It also frequently overlaps with the Crime genre.

Examples of An Immigrant's Tale include:


  • Vito Corleone's subplot in The Godfather, part II
  • Moscow on the Hudson, featuring Robin Williams as a defector from the Soviet Union making a new life in America
  • Under The Same Moon
  • Far And Away, about two Irish people migrating to America.
  • Gangs of New York
  • The Al Pacino version of Scarface
  • The Italian, directed by Thomas H. Ince, was a 1915 film that followed the life of an Italian immigrant - and this was during the latter part of the major immigration to the US in the late 19th/early 20th century.
  • The Immigrant by Charlie Chaplin
  • Avalon touches elements of this in the grandfather's flashbacks.
  • How the West Was Won begins in the early 1800s with a group of settlers from the east encountering the hazards of the wilderness, both natural and human, and traces their families through to the later part of the century.
  • My Name Is Khan follows the journey of an Asperger's-suffering Indian Muslim immigrant in the post-9/11 sociopolitical landscape.
  • The Namesake is about Indian immigrants to the U.S. and their son's journey to accept his culture.


  • The cycle of novels The Emigrants, Unto a Good Land, The Settlers, and the Last Letter Home by Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg, about a Swedish family's migration from Smaland to Minnesota in the late 1800s.
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan tells the story of an immigrant in a foreign country, foreign for the reader and the protagonist and how he's helped by both other immigrants from different countries and the locals until he manages to bring back his family.
  • Franz Kafka's Amerika tells the story of a young man's journey to a twisted version of America where the Statue of Liberty holds a sword.
  • The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo. Yes, that Mario Puzo. He actually bemoaned how people preferred a gangster story full of violence than the pains and joys of a single mother raising alone her kids in a foreign country.
  • The Joy Luck Club is a collection of stories about first- and second-generation Chinese-American immigrants.
  • The Jungle
  • Tis is the second of author Frank McCourt's memoirs and is about McCourt's immigration to the United States from Ireland (although he was already a U.S. citizen, having been born in New York to Irish immigrant parents who moved the family back to Ireland when he was a very young child).
  • Shanghai Girls is about May and Pearl Chin, sisters from Shanghai that are forced to immigrate to the U.S. with their husbands when their father loses all his money and World War II starts. May has a child in America, Joy, who is raised as Pearl's child. The sequel, Dreams of Joy, is about Joy's return to China to find her roots.
  • Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok, is about a girl named Kimberly and her mother immigrating to Brooklyn sometime in The Eighties.
  • Vita, by Melania Mazzucco, tells the story of two Italian immigrants arriving in New York as children in the early 20th century.
  • Middlesex is one, albeit extremely unconventional, about immigrants Eleutherios "Lefty" and his wife Desdemona Stephanides (who are also brother and sister) who immigrate to Detroit from Turkey.

Live Action TV


  • "America" by Neil Diamond
  • Regina Spektor's "Rockland County" and "8th Floor"
  • "In Your Hands" by Charlie Winston
  • No Gringo by Vienna Teng is one of these with a twist: it's set in a world where America is somewhere people are desperate to leave, not to come.


  • Kristina fran Duvemala is a musical by ex-ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, an adaptation of Moberg's novels.

Truth In Television

  • If you come from a family of immigrants, this happens at every family reunion. Or just every time your parents get drunk reminiscing.

Video Games

Western Animation

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.