Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature
New York, November 3, 1954. In a few days, the immigration inspection station on Ellis Island will close its doors forever.
“Josse powerfully evokes the spirit of the ‘huddled masses’ who landed on America’s shores while creating a memorable portrait of a man torn between his commitment to his difficult job and the longings of his heart. Duty and desire clash in the melancholy reminiscences of a former Ellis Island immigration officer.” —Kirkus Reviews, *Starred Review*
New York, November 3, 1954. In a few days, the immigration inspection station on Ellis Island will close its doors forever. John Mitchell, an officer of the Bureau of Immigration, is the guardian and last resident of the island. As Mitchell looks back over forty-five years as gatekeeper to America and its promise of a better life, he recalls his brief marriage to beloved wife Liz, and is haunted by memories of a transgression involving Nella, an immigrant from Sardinia. Told in a series of poignant diary entries, this is a story of responsibility, love, fidelity, and remorse.
“French novelist Josse’s melancholy English-language debut looks at the last few days in 1954 before Ellis Island was officially shuttered as a port of entry into the U.S. (…) Josse’s powerful work finds the human heart within a career bureaucrat.” —Publishers Weekly
“Gripping…The Last Days of Ellis Island is an absorbing novel in which beloved dreams are fast to shatter.” —Foreword Reviews