Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels. Her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books. He would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our time.
Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.
About the author
Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt, a novel about a Mexican bookseller who has to escape cartel-related violence with her son, fleeing to the US. Cummins received a seven-figure advance for this book. And it’s harmful, appropriating, inaccurate, trauma-porn melodrama.
What is the criticism of American dirt?
Cummins says the intent of the book was to humanize the US conversation around immigration. But, critics online say the book is rife with Mexican stereotypes and cultural misrepresentations.
Due to widespread criticism, several bookstores canceled appearances with Cummins to promote her book. On January 29, 2020, Flatiron Books canceled Cummins’s book tour, citing threats to Cummins. In the same statement, they apologized for using barbed wire decorations at the launch of the book.
That same day, 82 writers signed an open letter to Winfrey, asking her to reconsider her endorsement of the book. A further 58 writers endorsed the letter after publication, bringing the total to 140. The signatories included Valeria Luiselli, Daniel Olivas, Tommy Orange, and Rebecca Solnit.
Winfrey took a stand amidst the controversy and carried on with her show by posting two one-hour Apple TV plus episodes that focused on “American Dirt”. She acknowledged the criticisms and cancellation of the book tour. However, she felt moved by the book and decided, “If one author, one artist is silenced, we’re all in danger of the same. I believe that we can do this without having to cancel, to dismiss or to silence anyone.”
Participants on the show included a panel of writers, as well as the author, Cummins, and Oprah. Representatives from the book’s publisher also participated in the show: Don Weisberg, Macmillan Publishing’s president, and Amy Einhorn, a Flatiron (the book’s imprint) editor and publisher. “Weisberg readily acknowledged that the industry is too white, and he said he and others are working hard to diversify his company. Einhorn said she loved “American Dirt,” but she took full responsibility for the clumsy and sometimes tasteless way the novel had been marketed.”
Is American dirt fiction or nonfiction?
American Dirt Is a Novel, Not Non-Fiction. Wake Up, People! Jeanine Cummins, the author of American Dirt, will not be at the Tattered Cover on Colfax today.
What should I read instead of American dirt?
5 Great Books to Read Instead of ‘American Dirt’
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
Signs Preceding the End of the World is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back.
Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages – one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.
Where We Come From by Oscar Cásares
From a distance, the towns along the U.S.-Mexican border have dangerous reputations–on one side, drug cartels; on the other, zealous border patrol agents–and Brownsville is no different. But to twelve-year-old Orly, it’s simply where his godmother Nina lives–and where he is being forced to stay the summer after his mother’s sudden death.
For Nina, Brownsville is where she grew up, where she lost her first and only love, and where she stayed as her relatives moved away and her neighborhood deteriorated. It’s the place where she has buried all her secrets–and now she has another: she’s providing refuge for a young immigrant boy named Daniel, for whom traveling to America has meant trading one set of dangers for another.
Separated from the violent human traffickers who brought him across the border and pursued by the authorities, Daniel must stay completely hidden. But Orly’s arrival threatens to put them all at risk of exposure.
Tackling the crisis of U.S. immigration policy from a deeply human angle, Where We Come From explores through an intimate lens the ways that family history shapes us, how secrets can burden us, and how finding compassion and understanding for others can ultimately set us free.
Virgin by Analicia Sotelo
Selected by Ross Gay as the winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Analicia Sotelo’s debut collection of poems is a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman.
In Virgin, Sotelo walks the line between autobiography and mythmaking, offering up identities like dishes at a feast. These poems devour and complicate tropes of femininity–of naivete, of careless abandon–before sharply exploring the intelligence and fortitude of women, how “far & wide, / how dark & deep / this frigid female mind can go.” At every step, Sotelo’s poems seduce with history, folklore, and sensory detail–grilled meat, golden habaneros, and burnt sugar–before delivering clear-eyed and eviscerating insights into power, deceit, relationships, and ourselves.
Blistering and gorgeous, Virgin is an audacious act of imaginative self-mythology from one of our most promising young poets.
Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando Flores
Tears of the Trufflepig is a 2019 novel by writer Fernando A. Flores. Though it is not Flores’ first published book, it is his first novel. The novel is set in the future where normal, farmed food is scarce and the rich survive through the use of “filtered” animals and plants, created artificially. “Filtered” animals tend to be extinct taxa, restored to life to serve as food, clothing, or entertainment.
Barrio America by A. K. Sandoval-Strausz
Thirty years ago, most people were ready to give up on American cities. We are commonly told that it was a “creative class” of young professionals who revived a moribund urban America in the 1990s and 2000s. But this stunning reversal owes much more to another, far less visible group: Latino and Latina newcomers.
Award-winning historian A. K. Sandoval-Strausz reveals this history by focusing on two barrios: Chicago’s Little Village and Dallas’s Oak Cliff. These neighborhoods lost residents and jobs for decades before Latin American immigration turned them around beginning in the 1970s. As Sandoval-Strausz shows, Latinos made cities dynamic, stable, and safe by purchasing homes, opening businesses, and reviving street life. Barrio America uses vivid oral histories and detailed statistics to show how the great Latino migrations transformed America for the better.
How long is American Dirt?
The American Dirt novel which is written by Jeanine Cummins has 480 pages in the English language. It is published by Tinder Press.
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