review ↠ American Dirt

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 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 Peña 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 Óscar Martínez 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 Pérez 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 uinceañeras 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 beasts?And 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 Henríuez Book of Unknown Americans Ana Rauel Minian Undocumented Lives Anabel Hernández Massacre in Mexico Guadalupe García McCall All the Stars Denied Yuri Herrera Signs Preceding the End of the World Valeria Luiselli Tell Me How It Ends Oscar Cásares Where We Come From Alfredo Corchado Homelands Javier Zamora Unaccompanied Daniel Peña Bang Sylvia Zéleny The Everything I Have Lost Sara Uribe Antígona González Silvia Moreno García 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

  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 for staying alive because one of the powerful men is chasing them and he is determined to finish his massacre that he already started The man Javier Crespo Fuentes once upon a time he was her friend They talked about books shared their secrets formed a close relationship till one day Lydia’s reporter husband Sebastian wrote an article about JavierThe day the article had published their life’s direction had also traumatically changed So now Lydia’s husband mother sister and her children are dead Only she and her son stayed alive from vengeful attack of the cartel And now their thrilling heartbreaking dangerous journey begins They race against the time authorities and killers at the same time So keep still at the edge of your seats and take deep breathes to calm your nerves This book will increase your heart rates and blow your mind by making you agitated anxious but stop suirming nervously just keep on reading don’t you want to know what will happen to those innocent mother and her brilliant smart son?Let me tell you something they say “destination not important but the journey” but this time it works uite opposite at this book because throughout this long journey the mother and son walked hid slept in different places ran from dangerous people jumped into the trains put their lives in danger met with different people who had amazing experiences and life stories This journey makes you up all night to read learn ache fists clenched eyes filled in tears You whisper prayers slowly to wish the characters can escape from the real monsters are living in our modern world Not only mother and son but the people they’ve met especially the sisters helped them will always stay in my heart and soul forever because they’re so realistically developed well build characters who have heart wrenching stories I think instead of the beginning of this story author’s note part is also impressive It summarizes all those people including me who came to this land to chase their dreams deal with our disappointments and learn from our mistakes to try again On the border wall of Tijuana there is wonderful piece of graffiti When the author feel faltered or discouraged she clicks to her desktop and look at those words “On this side too there are dreams”Everyone has different dreams but sometimes making too many sacrifices and leaving your old lives and old selves behind might be too tough and compelling for you so sometimes you just procrastinate or give up on them This book could be dedicated to the dreamers who are brave enough to leave who have nothing to lose make so much sacrifices and pay so many dues to fight with everything they have and finally reach their destinations Maybe it is too early to say that but I think this will be one of the most stunning impressive and fascinating readings of 2020Special thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron Book for sharing this amazing ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review

  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 fiction Again with that word fiction Any book that shines light on a dark subject is a good thing Any book that gets people talking about the plight of others is a good thing You caucasians leaving comments purporting to speak for people of color is fucking hilarious Hypocrite much?As for your comments about Crawdads No I haven't read it which I stated in my review but that doesn't make me ignorant of the fact that it was top of the bestsellers list since it's debut Jfc go read a bookI've given my last fuck Original ReviewNo doubt this will be THE book of 2020The Where The Crawdads Sing book of 2020I've never read Crawdads and I wouldn't have read American Dirt if not so kindly offered the opportunity by the publisher This is so far from my usual genreGive me a thriller any dayI want to feel compelled to flip the pages while balancing on the edge of my seatI want to lose sleep because I can't put a book down a heart racing just one chapter type of story AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I GOT WITH THIS BOOKThis book was nothing like what I was expecting and everything I could ever hope for Cummins has written a gripping and compelling narrative that every American should read Unfortunately those that need this message the most will refuse this book out of spite andor the inability to read☝️If that statement offends you then you are exactly who it is directed towards Thank you Hachette Australia for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

  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 even aware of the controversial issues until yesterday As pure FICTION it’s sooooo engaging “In a different life he could have been someone good” “This isn’t a different life” Much to engage your thinkingHow in the world does one debate the degrees of violence? This novel GRABS OUR ATTENTIONIt changes something inside us Plus It’s not easy to stop thinking about the characters and all they were dealing with I can’t think of any relationship primal than a motherchild one I thought about“How does fear grief love irrational lovejustify our actions?How do we deal with the complexity of good and evil mixed with love?”The controversy over “American Dirt” is becoming as interesting as this novel itself Has me pondering both sides Howevera book that stirs our emotions and thoughts as much as this book doesis definitely BUZZ WORTHY and for lack of a better word ‘entertaining’in a gripping reading way I’ve experienced being on both sides of ‘positivenegative’ booksheated debates a couple of times In “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage I was on the negative side A New York newspaper uoted me as calling it “fiction nonsense” Many readers praised it with high ratings What was garbage to me was fascinating for others In “American Dirt” I’m on the positive side The storytelling is addictingthought provokingcompassionately well writtenand timely The hype started out graduallyand gradually continued to grow Negative reviews started graduallybut thenthe ’controversy wheel’ kicked in fastfaster than all the tea made in China There are several ‘Dunkin Slam’ nasty comments about this book Things I hadn’t thought about Even being a new Oprah pick is controversial But maybe that happens often with Oprah picks?Comparison to “The Grapes of Wrath”as the new modern American novelis also creating debatable conversations I definitely see the comparison understand it anyway I just think and agree that people who loved this novel as I did and for many reasons are TRYING to express how powerful and real this book feels So“Why the extreme divisions on this book? Why all the attention?” Perhaps ‘all sides’ are coming from the same place? People ‘care’ Our tender sensitive sides don’t want to see others suffer be abused treated unfairly or killed In my opinion “Any ‘die hard reader’ would be a fool not to investigate all the hullabaloosurrounding “American Dirt” One needs to read it first Two thumbs up from me I lost two nights of sleepDaytime plans were canceled Read with urgencyA little uestion for those who have read it??What book do you think inspired Luca to talk? Guesses? And to everyone elseWhat book would you like to read over and change the ending to be happier? 5 riveting and extraordinary

  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 American Dirt So I’m not really touching either of those elements in my review I am a white woman living in upstate New York thousands of miles from Mexico I have no real personal experience regarding the Mexican migrant issue and therefore cannot speak to whether or not author Jeanine Cummins writes a genuine representation of the crisis or not I don’t even dare to attempt to do so What I can write about however is my own reading experience of this novel First of all I was super excited to pick up this book I lovingly cataloged it at my library when it first arrived I put my name first on the list to get it on publication day After all it was hailed as “a new American classic” and was compared to the masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath Naturally this did give me pause because both are tall orders to fill Could this proclamation be true? And it’s such a relevant topic I need to read this book I like to learn something when I read Even if a book is labeled as fiction I hope to garner some useful information regarding the topic surrounding a group of fictional characters I want to feel as if I am in the shoes of a character or two understanding what they are enduring for this short period of time we are together To my disappointment I was completely underwhelmed by American Dirt It was far too melodramatic for my taste It starts with a big bang right from page one But for me it was too much It seemed to be forced in order to provide the catalyst for the rest of the novel an extravagant attempt to try to gain my sympathy I felt an instant disconnection from the characters I tried to remain hopeful about accompanying Lydia and Luca on their harrowing journey through Mexico towards their one glimmer of hope the United States And there were scenes that were charged with danger Naturally I hoped this pair and their fellow migrants would survive the risks One additional thing that bothered me throughout – some characters were just not believable I couldn’t help but think repeatedly “would so and so really act or speak this way in this situation?” One example would be too wise beyond his years eight year old Luca I was further bothered by what seemed like an abundance of clichés For example the beautiful teenaged girl from Honduras – the threat of rape menaced her at every turn Why not the arguably less stunning but perhaps still attractive mother of a little boy? Would not any migrant woman be at risk from such danger? I guess what I’m trying to say is that the characters were like cut outs in my opinion I missed the depth of characterization that I find so appealing in my favorite kind of novel It doesn’t help that while reading this one I also had the pure pleasure of another book that really did tick off all the boxes – including nuanced characters eually relevant social and political issues and perilous situations I wouldn’t tell anyone they should not read this book If it at all interests you by all means pick it up and make your own judgments For me the writing was mediocre and I was disappointed to remain a far removed observer None of the thousands of miles separating my home from the Mexican border were diminished after finishing the last page But I truly hope it does get people talking about an extremely important issue The best way to read this would be with a buddy so you can bounce ideas off one another I may not have made it to the end otherwise muito obrigada Pedro I will continue my uest to become educated on the topicFor an engaging write up of this book please visit my buddy's review here

  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 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 CLUBS????ETA 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

  10. says:

    UPDATE I read this book in early fall 2019 before important critiues and interviews were published Some commenters have helpfully linked those in comments so you can see some of what I'm referencing I've cleared my star rating I'm listening I'm learning I'm asking uestions I considered deleting my original review; for now I'm leaving it below I thought this was absolutely fantastic and I can't wait for everyone I know to read it so we can talk about it together If you follow me you know I have a sweet spot for what I like to call compulsively readable literary fiction This is it

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summary ☆ eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ Jeanine Cummins

Ite 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 eig Nope The Dream Weaver 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 eig Nope

summary American Dirt

American Dirt

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 favor Ok seems like a bunch of privileged 'let me show you how woke I am' white people have dec The Dream Weaver 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 favor Ok seems like a bunch of privileged 'let me show you how woke I am' white people have dec

summary ☆ eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ Jeanine Cummins

Ht 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? DNF the audiobook free review copy from Librofm at 15% for various reasons including over