There have been tweet threads and essays, all arguing that the book deploys harmful stereotypes. 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. At least 25 immigrants have died while in ICE custody during Trump’s presidency. The book affords its readers a safe distance between real immigrants and the caricatures presented in the book. But in the book, it’s depicted as a small cookout where the father grills steaks. By all accounts, she isn’t wrong. 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 … No, the freedom I now feel didn’t come from stepping foot into the US. Luca goes to school; Lydia cleans houses — because of course she does. 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. 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. 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? 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. Flatiron Books In the last week, you may have noticed a new book becoming the topic of many heated conversations. That way, Gurba said, publishers will put out books that more accurately and authentically reflect the community portrayed in works of fiction. A denaturalization force has been created to take away the citizenship of naturalized citizens for minor discrepancies in their applications. Latino critics say ``American Dirt'' contains stereotypes, incorrect regional slang, and cultural inaccuracies. The novel is filled with these types of characters. 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. I believe that for the rest of your life, you carry that border inside of you.”. The World is a public radio program that crosses borders and time zones to bring home the stories that matter. 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. Her goal, she said, was to humanize migrants by presenting their stories in an intimate way. A reductive version of the complaints about American Dirt claims that the novel’s detractors believe that a white woman should not write about the experiences of Latino migrants. It’s even possible one might not notice the erroneous use of “mordida,” which is what Cummins calls the payments shop owners must make to cartels in order to operate their businesses. “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. Mexican citizens can fly to many countries around the world without the type of visa restrictions the US imposes — among them Canada, France, Italy, Colombia, and Spain. PRX is a 501(c)(3) organization recognized by the IRS: #263347402. But later, as the migrants approach Arizona, a “young, politicized liberal” tells Lydia about Arivaca, a town where “vigilante militiamen murdered a nine-year-old girl and her father years ago.” Here, when Americans are the ones being criticized, the author challenges such broad demonization, assuring us through the coyote’s dialogue, “There are good people in Arivaca, too.” Deciding to be silent on matters of policy is in itself a political stance. The story you just read is freely available and accessible to everyone because readers like you support The World financially. A new novel about migration to the US stirred controversy as soon as it hit bookshelves this week. Jan 31, 2020 1:30 PM. Cummins confided in the book’s afterword that … (L) The cover of "American Dirt" and (R) author Jeanine Cummins. American Dirt is a work of fiction, but it’s not fantasy; Cummins has a responsibility to accurately portray the context she places her characters in, especially since, as an author, she felt she had “the capacity to be a bridge.” I do believe that books, films, and TV shows have the ability to ignite cultural change, which can in turn create political change. Become a BuzzFeed News member. Deciding to be silent on matters of policy is in itself a political stance. Caso não concorde com o uso cookies dessa forma, você deverá ajustar as configurações de seu navegador ou deixar de acessar o nosso site e serviços. 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. Your donation directly supported the critical reporting you rely on, the consistent reporting you believe in, and the deep reporting you want to ensure survives. A mordida is what Lydia should have paid to get the document she needed to board a plane with her son — but she is not resourceful in the way real immigrants are, and instead she boards the very dangerous “La Bestia” train instead. 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American Dirt, the high-octane story of a Mexican mother who crosses into the US with her son, was published this week. American Dirt has been hailed as the book everyone should read if they want to understand the plight of so many immigrants looking for safety in the United States. There are still tens of thousands of immigrants in detention. But when these mediums perpetuate dangerous stereotypes, they do not build bridges; they tear down the ones we’ve been working to build. "They got played,” Gurba said. 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. 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