Writer, photographer and teacher MARGARET RANDALL. For 23 years, she lived throughout Latin and Central America, writing about the people, and in particular the lives of the women. She has published almost 50 books of poetry, prose and oral history. Since her return to the United States from an extended stay in Latin America, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been trying to deport her. Randall and her supporters claim that is because Randall's writing is sharply critical of government policy in Central America.
Ronald Takaki. He's the grandson of Japanese immigrants and a professor of Ethnic Studies at Berkeley. His book, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, tells the diverse stories of Asian immigrants who have come to the United States during the past century and a half. Takaki relates the personal testimonies of new immigrants and their American-born children.
Ellis Island reopens to the public soon. Commentator Maureen Corrigan shares her disappointment that she'll have to pay if she wants her grandparents' names inscribed on the new American Immigrant Wall of Honor.
The Cuban-born poet and essayist has just written his first novel, "The Marks of Birth." It explores the experience of exile through the eyes of a young character whose family is forced to flee the political unrest of a Caribbean island-nation, and begin again in America. Medina has also written two collections of poems: "Pork Rind and Cuban Songs" and "Arching into the Afterlife," and a book of personal essays entitled "Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood."
In 1995, Divakaruni's short story collection "Arranged Marriage" garnered three awards. Her new novel, "The Mistress of Spices," tells the story of a woman whose knowledge of the healing power of spices takes her on a supernatural adventure. Divakaruni teaches creative writing at Foothill College in California and is president of MAITRI, a support hotline for South Asian women.
Novelist Peter Quinn is the author of "Banished Children of Eve" about the Irish in New York City during the Civil War. He's also contributor to the new six-hour PBS series "The Irish in America: Long Journey Home" (January 26-28). There's also a companion book "The Irish in America" (Hyperion).
Peter Hessler is the author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze (HarperCollins). Its about his two years in Fuling, China as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English and American literature at a local college. The book was serialized in The New Yorker.