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Ight 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. DNF the audiobook free review copy from Librofm at 15% for various reasons including overly dramatic writing that doesn t fit my reading preferences major representation issues and perpetuation of racist stereotypes ETA I encourage readers to find books about this issue that accurately depict Mexico and the immigrant experience One excellent option would be this one The Devil s Highway A True StoryETA 2 WHY DID OPRAH AND BARNES AND NOBLE CHOOSE THIS FOR THEIR BOOK CLUBSETA 3 Check out articles on NYT and The Guardian for formal reviews about the controversy one on the LA Times about it being Oprah s pick is SIGH Hypety hype hype NO PRESS IS BAD PRESS when it comes to hype and book sales 4 if you want Cliffs Notes on the issues surrounding this bookhttpswwwvulturecom202001ameriETA 5 YOU GUYS THERE ARE PHOTOS OF AN AUTHOR EVENT FOR THIS BOOK IN WHICH THERE ARE FLORAL DECORATIONS FEATURING BARBED WIRE BORDER WALL CHIC And in one of these links somewhere in here OW says that Cummins humanizes the issue at the border UMMMMMMMM Don t the actual humans at the border humanize it Like there are HUMANS AT THE BORDER I forgive Oprah for making a mistake in picking this book I don t forgive her for doubling down on her support Also a good piece by Seattle Review of BookshttpsseattlereviewofbookscomnoteAnd the best piece of all about it you want a stellar ownvoices publishing insider s take on the issue check out a story highlight on Instagram by nastymuchachitareads titled AD PublishingETA 6Here s the original pic of the centerpieces from a May 2019 event a post via the author herself I m a librarian I believe in verifying sources 7NPR coverage from 12420httpswwwnprorg20200124798894LA Times article referenced in the NPR piecehttpswwwlatimescomentertainmentETA 8Oprah has now posted on IGTV and I m sure elsewhere that she hears all the concerns and is going to have a conversation about the issue on AppleTV Which I won t see bc I don t have that but at least she acknowledged it ETA 9This episode on the 1A podcast from 12820 is excellent regarding not just AD but why the publishing industry did what they did and do what they dohttpspodcastsapplecomuspodcastETA 10Please listen to the Latino USA podcast episode from 12920 about this issueAND Flatiron canceled the book tour They issued a statement too You can read it here and click on Full Statement at the bottom to actually read it There is massive controversy about the letter itself my friendsETA 11I think I might be done updating this now Bottom line The hype there is about a forthcoming book the skeptical I m going to be ESPECIALLY if there s any uestion about it being ownvoices

review American Dirt

American Dirt

Rite 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 sameForced to flee Lydia and e. I wish I could give this book negative stars because it is as its title attests dirt It is also profoundly racist Here is my essay about the dissent surrounding this book dissent that is being erased disappeared and silenced

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También de este lado hay sueños On this side too there are dreamsLydia uixano 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 comfortableEven though she knows they’ll never sell Lydia stocks some of her all time favo. BECAUSE SOME OF YOU ATTACKING ME IN THE COMMENTS ARE INCAPABLE OF CLICKING ON MY NAME TO LEARN THIS I am not white I m Mexican AmericanI DON T READ THE COMMENTS ANYMOREclearly I was reading them early on as you can see on the first few PAGES of comments You re free to talk amongst yourselves however editFor a deeper nuanced conversation from a panel of Mexican American poets professors bloggers librarians poets laureate watch this video as part of the DignidadLiteraria team I met with Flatiron Macmillan Here s the press conference announcing the commitment to Latinx euity the publisher made And here s an article from LIBRARY JOURNAL about how our efforts have transformed Flatiron Macmillan editJeanine Cummins American Dirt is 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 melodramaProblem 1 The Author Let me start with the obvious Cummins has never lived even within five hundred miles of Mexico or the border In fact until very recently she didn t lay claim to the Latinx heritage that comes to her through a Puerto Rican grandmother Just five years ago she was calling herself white Latina or no Cummins certainly isn t Mexican or Chicana That s a problemIf you don t know this Mexican writers are horribly underpaid Women writers in Mexico so And Chicanx authors suffer marginalization in the US market As a Mexican American writer I have seen my Chicana and Mexicana colleagues struggle to get their stories told to get their manuscripts into the hands of agents and past the publishing industry s gatekeepersWhile I have nothing against Jeanine s or anyone else s writing a book about the plight of Mexican women and immigrants especially if they do their homework and don t exoticize our culture I am deeply bothered that this non OwnVoices novel has been anointed the book about the issue for 2020 with a seven figure advance no less with glowing reviews from major newspapers and the support of big names in US publishingSuch reception is especially harmful because authentic stories by Mexicanas and Chicanas are either passed over or published to significantly less fanfare and for much less money There s been strong pushback especially Myriam Gurba s masterful take down of the book that magazines refused to publish and Parul Sehgal s examination of how the book flounders and fails Author Daniel Pe a characterizes the book in stark terms lab created brown trauma built for the white gaze and white book clubs to give a textural experience to people who need to feel something to avoid doing anything and from the safety of their chairUS readers would be MUCH better off diving into one of the many books on immigration by ACTUAL Chicanx and Mexican writers that already exist I mean Cummins sure didMy research started with reading everything Luis Alberto Urrea ever wrote Then I read everything else I could find about contemporary Mexico and by contemporary Mexican writers Then I read everything I could find about migration Sonia Nazario s Enriue s Journey is magnificent So is The Beast by the Salvadoran writer scar Mart nez from her Shelf Awareness interviewYet even after reading EXISTING works Jeanine Cummins STILL felt SHE needed to write about the plight of Mexican immigrants Ostensibly however she was conflicted and nervous On the one hand she admits to Alexandra Alter of the New York Times I don t know if I m the right person to tell this story And in the afterword of her book she worries that privilege would make her blind to certain truths wishing that someone slightly browner than her would write itBut on the other hand she still wrote it After talking to various Mexicans on the border this was her response Every single person I met made me and determined to write this book Cummins was concerned she claims that people at the border were being depicted as a brown faceless mass She wanted to give them a face To be their white saviorOf course she conveniently forgot about the very OwnVoices books she had mined for ideas and cultural texture In the midst of this literary amnesia she decided to make millions off the pain and struggle of women from a completely different cultureWhy does her identity even matter Because she gets nearly everything wrong as a resultProblem 2 The ContentFor example Cummins screws up Spanish egregiously especially nuances in Mexican Spanish First when depicting Spanish language dialogue as English she sprinkles it with Spanish words which is ridiculous Hola abuela is just Hello Grandma in English not Hello Abuela as Cummins prefers Even if we accept this as poetic licence to add cultural texture she does it poorly never using Mexican Spanish terms just sterile standard ones If you re going to add spice make it chile Jeanine Actual examples of Spanish are wooden and odd as if generated by Google Translate and then smoothed slightly by a line editor The Spanish is not idiomatic at allCultural references are often missed and Lydia uixano P rez what a name huh is ignorant of things that any Mexican knows For example learning a cartel leader is called La Lechuza which Cummins incorrectly glosses as the Owl Lydia laughs Owls aren t scary she insistsNow a lechuza is a screech owl They have been feared throughout Mexico for literally THOUSANDS OF YEARS considered harbingers of death witches in disguise Lydia s reaction is that of the White readers not actual Mexicans And this is just one of literally dozens of examplesPeople are stereotypes in this novel participating in stereotypical activities uincea eras for example They live in a flattened pastiche version of Mexico a dark hellhole of the sort Trump rails against geographically and culturally indistinct Lydia and Luca despite having money escape to the precious freedom of the US aboard La Bestia that dangerous crime infested train because of COURSE they do But they don t suffer the maiming abuse theft and rape so common on that gang controlled artery to the border It s all very Hollywood very best selling thriller And the characters Gah I am close friends with people from all social classes in Mexico including light skinned middle class book loving women like the protagonist ostensibly is But none of the peculiarities of those lives and experiences make their way into this novel Instead Lydia and Luca feel like a White US mother and her son with nominally Mexican names slapped on sprinkled with a bit of lime and salt They could easily appear in a Gillian Flynn novel with little adjustment at all Further Cummins clearly wants us to be startled at how erudite and elegant some of the males are OMG Really I imagine some US reader gasping In Mexico Aren t all men uncouth swarthy beastsAnd frankly I ve barely scratched the surface here Setting aside the melodramatic plot and mediocre writing there is so much to say especially about how this book which the editor characterizes as a portrait of a nation and a people under siege does little to explore the complicity of the US in the violence wracking Mexico In avoiding politics Cummins ends up implicitly blaming the victimLet me be clear because American Dirt contains multiple inaccuracies and distortions the White US readership in particular will come away with a stylized understanding of the issues from a melodramatic bit of literary pulp that frankly appears to have been drafted with their tastes in mind rather than the authentic voices of Mexicanas and ChicanasAh and there s the rub White folks and other non Mexican Americans in the US you CANNOT judge for yourselves whether American Dirt is authentic You re going to have to trust Mexicans and Chicanx folks I know that runs counter to the upbringing of so many I know it defies our national discourse Pero ni modo That s too badAt a time when Mexico and the Mexican American community are reviled in this country as they haven t been in decades to elevate this inauthentic book written by someone outside our community is to slap our collective faceBooks I suggest reading instead of or in conversation with American Dirt Reyna Grande Dream Called Home Distance Between Us Luis Urrea Devil s Highway Into the Beautiful North Cristina Henr uez Book of Unknown Americans Ana Rauel Minian Undocumented Lives Anabel Hern ndez Massacre in Mexico Guadalupe Garc a McCall All the Stars Denied Yuri Herrera Signs Preceding the End of the World Valeria Luiselli Tell Me How It Ends Oscar C sares Where We Come From Alfredo Corchado Homelands Javier Zamora Unaccompanied Daniel Pe a Bang Sylvia Z leny The Everything I Have Lost Sara Uribe Ant gona Gonz lez Silvia Moreno Garc a Untamed ShoreRead the full version of this review here s my follow up discussion of Cummins enablers s my article in the NEW YORK TIMES diving even deeper into the source and repercussions of the controversy s my fourth piece American Dirt Dignity Euity

10 thoughts on “American Dirt

  1. says:

    BECAUSE SOME OF YOU ATTACKING ME IN THE COMMENTS ARE INCAPABLE OF CLICKING ON MY NAME TO LEARN THIS I am not white I'm Mexican AmericanI DON'T READ THE COMMENTS ANYMOREclearly I was reading them early on as you can see on the first few PAGES of comments You're free to talk amongst yourselves however editFor a dee

  2. says:

    What a mind blowing beginning of a book A mother Lydia and her little boy Luca hid themselves in the bathtub for not being other victims of family massacre The contract killers most dangerous drug lord’s dirtbags kept looking for them firing their guns calling their names And finally they thought they were not at the house so they left the place and 16 innocent victims behind Now mother and her son have to leave the country f

  3. says:

    Ok seems like a bunch of privileged 'let me show you how woke I am' white people have decided they can speak for the Latin community Surprise asshats I am of Mexican and Native American blood This is a work of FICTION Google it if you don't understand The author owes you nada Move on Get over yourself Fuck offTo say that a non Latina has no right to write about Latin issues is absurd Tell that to all of the writers of WWII ficti

  4. says:

    I wish I could give this book negative stars because it is as its title attests dirt It is also profoundly racist Here is my essay about the dissent surrounding this book dissent that is being erased disappeared and silenced

  5. says:


  6. says:

    horribly racist book abt mexico written by a white lady sooooooooooooooooo tired of yts pretending like they understand stop telling our stories through your horribly racist oppressive lenses please read a real review

  7. says:

    YESYESYES READ ITThat beginning is gripping The most anticipated novel for 2020 has the word controversy around itI wasn’t

  8. says:

    I doubt there is a single person here on Goodreads that has not heard at least a hint of the controversy surrounding this book I’m also confident that nearly every reader has at least a basic idea of the synopsis of Americ

  9. says:

    DNF the audiobook free review copy from Librofm at 15% for various reasons including overly dramatic writing that doesn’t fit my reading preferences major representation issues and perpetuation of racist stereotypes ETA I encourage readers to find books about this issue that accurately depict Mexico and the imm

  10. says:

    UPDATE I read this book in early fall 2019 before important critiues and interviews were published Some commente

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