Much has been said about the cultural inaccuracies of the text, the cartoonish use of Spanish, and even the low quality of the writing. Jeanine Cummins’ novel American Dirt — or “The Grapes of Wrath for our times,” according to author Don Winslow — is neither the dream I had hoped for nor the vehicle that is going to create the type of change our community deserves. Many people felt that Cummins, who identifies as white and Latina, furthered harmful stereotypes about migrants from Mexico and Central America, that her novel included several cultural inaccuracies, and that the marketing campaign surrounding her … “Dirty jeans, busted shoes, baseball hats.”. And the author is Jeanine Cummins, a New York City novelist who identifies as white and Latina (her grandmother is Puerto Rican). As a Latina writer, my petitions were for us to be seen, heard, and understood. A new novel about migration to the US stirred controversy as soon as it hit bookshelves this week. In the author’s note, Cummins says she wrote this book in part because “the conversation [surrounding immigration] always seemed to turn around policy issues, to the absolute exclusion of moral or humanitarian concerns”— but we cannot divorce the political from the human condition of immigrants. “What we really need to be talking about are Mexico’s migration policies, and how the Trump administration has influenced them.”. But despite the Latinx community coming together to raise critical problems with the book and the publishing industry at large, sales numbers so far suggest that the book will likely land at or near the top of the bestseller list. “Your baby will be a US citizen,” Lydia tells Soledad, a Honduran migrant whose beauty is described as “an accident of biology” and who has become pregnant after being raped. Esses Cookies nos permitem coletar alguns dados pessoais sobre você, como sua ID exclusiva atribuída ao seu dispositivo, endereço de IP, tipo de dispositivo e navegador, conteúdos visualizados ou outras ações realizadas usando nossos serviços, país e idioma selecionados, entre outros. So let me set the record straight: No Mexican family would have a mere 16 people at a quinceañera, and no Mexican family would be listening to the radio at a quinceañera. She feels “that screaming into the echo chamber wasn’t working.” But those of us who are “browner,” who have written these books, aren’t screaming. For that kind of conversation to take place, it would help to have greater diversity in book publishing, Gurba said. "American Dirt," the new novel by Jeanine Cummins, traces the journey a mother and son make to the US, after … And yet when it comes to Mexico, it’s not new for outsiders to misrepresent the reality of the country, said David Miklos, a Mexico City-based novelist and a professor at CIDE, a university in Mexico City. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Let 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 Chicanas). "American Dirt," a novel that is Oprah Winfrey's latest book club pick, has sparked a bitter controversy over its author's identity and portrayal of Mexican migrants. But when American Dirt was finally released in January of 2020, it came with an overwhelming outcry from Latinx writers and readers. Our “policy issues” are a direct consequence of our moral and humanitarian shortcomings. A new novel about migration to the US stirred controversy as soon as it hit bookshelves this week. ... started to attack the book, describing it as “trauma porn” and pointing to factual inaccuracies (none of them major). We are fighting, advocating, and using our art to break down walls. To learn more, review our Cookie Policy. The reality that college was not an option for undocumented students like me, no matter how well I had done in high school — I graduated in the top 5% of my class — stung deep in my heart. "American Dirt" by Jeanine Cummins was celebrated by many critics as the great immigrant novel of our day. American Dirt fails to humanize immigrants because its author was unwilling to face the real forces behind migration and the very real challenges migrants meet once they arrive in the United States. The publishing industry ensured her book’s success with a vast publicity push — dinners for booksellers and celebrity endorsements, including from big names like Oprah — that most novelists … Cummins received a seven-figure advance for this book. We are fighting, advocating, and using our art to break down walls. In a viral review for the literary blog Tropics of Meta, writer Myriam Gurba argues “American Dirt” is a tourist’s version of what Mexico might look like, and is symptomatic of the lack of diversity in America’s book publishing industry. There … As author Reyna Grande has poignantly written, “Unfortunately for us immigrants, the trauma doesn’t end with a successful border crossing. We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. “The description sounds like a casual American backyard gathering, not like the quinceañera, which is formal, and which you put a great deal of effort into making elegant,” Gurba said. Cummins earned a seven-figure deal with Flatiron Books for the novel, according to Publisher’s Weekly, and the novel has been promoted by Oprah Winfrey’s book club — an endorsement that has sent many books to bestseller lists. American Dirt, the high-octane story of a Mexican mother who crosses into the US with her son, was published this week. We are supposed to believe that a well-to-do Mexican family does not have passports and that, with tens of thousands of dollars at her disposal and having made it to the Mexico City airport, Lydia has no option but to board the most dangerous form of transportation. “It’s a collection of gross stereotypes intended to be consumed by a white audience with a sweet tooth for Mexican pain,” Gurba told The World. And it's harmful, appropriating, inaccurate, trauma-porn melodrama. "American Dirt," a novel by Jeanine Cummins and an Oprah's Book Club selection, is seen on the shelves at a Barnes & Noble store in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 30, 2020. Thank you all for helping us reach our goal of 1,000 donors. "American Dirt" by Jeanine Cummins. (L) The cover of "American Dirt" and (R) author Jeanine Cummins. The angst of becoming a citizen, going through endless background checks, interviews, lawyers, court dates, took such a huge personal toll that my marriage ended. Those of us who are “browner,” who have written these books, aren’t screaming. Latino critics say ``American Dirt'' contains stereotypes, incorrect regional slang, and cultural inaccuracies. "They got played,” Gurba said. But the controversy centers around who gets to tell such a story, and the people who get to make that decision in America’s book publishing industry. As a formerly undocumented Mexican immigrant, I have long wished for books with Mexican immigrant protagonists, squarely centered on our immigrant experience, to receive critical acclaim — to be celebrated with awards, to appear on required reading lists, and to have their authors receive advances that raise an eyebrow. Almost 80% of the people in it are white, according to a survey of North America conducted by Lee and Low Books in 2015. Migrants and refugees haven’t been afforded due process because of Trump’s "Remain in Mexico" policy. Every morning, the editorial team at public radio’s international news show The World meets to plan what they'll cover that day. On the back cover of Cummins’ book, publisher Flatiron Books’ blurb promises, “American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed.” But when readers are presented with characters that poorly reflect the real lives of people who are affected not just by the dangers, economic conditions, and violence they are fleeing, but also the inhumane, anti-immigrant laws they encounter once they cross the border, how can they truly be transformed? After being kidnapped by Mexican immigration officials, Lydia and Luca earn their freedom by paying their own ransom, but they are told by “el comandante” that they should not care about the other immigrants because “most of these are bad guys anyway.” Echoing Trump, he continues: “They’re gang members, they’re running drugs. "American Dirt" is compelling and timely, but it is a shame that a novel like this was not written by someone who understood the culture better. American Dirt has been called “determinedly apolitical,” precisely because of these decisions to gloss over the political forces behind the circumstances of its characters. We couldn’t have done it without your support. Jan 31, 2020 1:30 PM. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies and Privacy Policy. Para saber mais sobre nossa política de cookies, acesse link. But when I was 14 years old, my visa expired and I became undocumented in the United States, unable to travel to Mexico to celebrate my 15th birthday with family and friends. When I immigrated to the US at the age of 11, I came here on a plane; I never crossed the border illegally, because at that time my family had financial resources that many immigrants lack. The wall continues to be built. American Dirt has been the subject of controversy and criticism since 2019, ... We’re just being outspoken about the inaccuracies of what this book represents.” There have been tweet threads and essays, all arguing that the book deploys harmful stereotypes. “Yeah, all the migrants wear the same uniforms, right?” a Mexican child named Beto tells Luca during their journey. However, its multiple inaccuracies of Mexican culture still bring into discussion the possibilities of whitewashing, cultural appropriation, and unfair stereotypes in the novel, having yet to settle the controversies surrounding the novel. Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt is not what I was hoping for. Julissa Arce is an activist and author of My (Underground) American Dream and Someone Like Me. DACA recipients still await their fate in this country as the Supreme Court argues. It’s harder to move past the echoes of racist assumptions about immigrants, the kind that can make an actual immigrant’s skin crawl. Cummins confided in the book's afterword that she didn't know if … It’s something I fight for every day. She creates a plot that seems impossible to someone like me — a Mexican immigrant who, like Lydia, lived a middle-class life in Mexico and whose family has suffered at the hands of cartel-related violence. Flatiron Books In the last week, you may have noticed a new book becoming the topic of many heated conversations. Cummins has defended the book by saying she conducted five years’ worth of research for it. Utilizamos cookies, próprios e de terceiros, que o reconhecem e identificam como um usuário único, para garantir a melhor experiência de navegação, personalizar conteúdo e anúncios, e melhorar o desempenho do nosso site e serviços. At least 25 immigrants have died while in ICE custody during Trump’s presidency. Want to see more stories like this? Just this week, the Supreme Court voted to allow Trump’s “public charge” policy to go forward, which would reject permanent residency applications from low-income immigrants and keep them from using public benefits like Medicaid and food stamps. Cummins explains in the author’s note that she wants to help readers see immigrants as fellow human beings, rather than as an “invading mob of resource-draining criminals” or “a faceless brown mass” — but she takes us on a journey that not only perpetuates those very stereotypes so often found in fiction (and Donald Trump’s speeches) but also portrays immigrants as helpless people carrying baggage full of pain and problems. Gurba and many others who joined the conversation are calling for a transformation of the book publishing industry. ●. Take, for instance, a scene in which hitmen fatally shoot Lydia and Luca’s family at a quinceañera, a coming-of-age party that in Mexico would typically be large and fancy. Contrary to what Kathleen Parker says (column, “Write for your race, culture,” Feb. 5), the issue with the book “American Dirt” isn’t writing about a culture not one’s own. SUBSCRIBE NOW $1 for 3 months. That way, Gurba said, publishers will put out books that more accurately and authentically reflect the community portrayed in works of fiction. The book affords its readers a safe distance between real immigrants and the caricatures presented in the book. I believe that for the rest of your life, you carry that border inside of you.”. Sign up for our daily newsletter TOP OF THE WORLD and get the big stories we’re tracking delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. Looks like your browser doesn't support JavaScript. Latino critics say ``American Dirt″ contains stereotypes, incorrect regional slang, and cultural inaccuracies. Jeanine Cummins' American Dirt is a novel about a Mexican bookseller who has to escape cartel-related violence with her son, fleeing to the US. 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