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America is in the Heart

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Why was America so kind and yet so cruel? It was like going to war with other soldiers; some survived death but could not survive life.

America is the Heart is a breathtaking semi-autobiographical book by Filipino immigrant, poet and activist Carlos Bulosan. First published in 1946, this book follows the life of a Filipino immigrant, from his early childhood in the Philippines to his immigration to the United States, and vividly depicts the struggles he faced as a provincial child from a poor family, as well as, in later years, a migrant and a laborer.

This book had a profound impact on me personally, as it is unmatched in Filipino-American literature. The book has been compared to John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath.

“America came to him in a public ward in the Los Angeles County Hospital while around him men died gasping for their last bit of air, and he learned that while America could be cruel it could also be immeasurably kind. . . . For Carlos Bulosan no lifetime could be long enough in which to explain to America that no man could destroy his faith in it again. He wanted to contribute something toward the final fulfillment of America. So he wrote this book that holds the bitterness of his own blood.” – Carlos P. Romulo, “New York Times”

“The premier text of the Filipino-American experience.” – Greg Castilla

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