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17 Great Books on the Border to Read Instead of ‘American Dirt’

Macmillan



If you’ve been online in the past few months, you’ve probably seen ads for American Dirt, Jeanine Cummins’ heavily promoted new novel about Mexican-American immigration. The book was loftily blurbed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and sold for a seven-figure advance. Oprah picked it for her book club, it’s been included on numerous lists of the most anticipated books of the year, and the film rights have already been secured.

But when reviews started coming out late last week, the backlash was swift and severe. “This peculiar book flounders and fails,” wrote Parul Sehgal in the New York Times. In a funny, fiery takedown, Chicana writer Myriam Gurba called it “fake-ass social justice literature,” complete with such tired stereotypes as “the Latin lover, the suffering mother, and the stoic manchild.” On Twitter, Latinx authors were equal parts angry and weary, unsurprised that the PR machine had anointed a writer who until recently identified as white (she has a Puerto Rican grandmother) as a definitive voice on immigration. “They want our stories, our food, our culture, and our languages, but they don’t want us,” said Obed Manuel of the Dallas Morning News. In an incredibly tasteless turn, a launch party for the book featured floral displays with twigs shaped like barbed wire.

Racism and gatekeeping in the publishing industry are big, systemic problems; at least American Dirt has started a much-needed conversation on the subject. What can readers do? One small step is to commit to read more books by Latinx authors. In service

Article source: https://www.texasobserver.org/17-great-books-on-the-border-to-read-instead-of-american-dirt/

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