Tag: american dirt

Book Tour Canceled Due to Criticism

American Dirt, a novel that Oprah immediately claimed as part of her book club, is now causing an uproar. The author, Jeanine Cummins, is facing criticism for her stereotypical depictions of Mexicans. So, for Cummins’ safety, her publisher had to cancel the reminder of her book tour.

Image via Amazon

 

The novel is about a Mexican woman and her son, and how they flee to the U.S Boarder. Before the controversy the book was widely praised, even before its January 21 release. Then Mexican American writers began to criticize Cummins, who is of Irish and Puerto Rican descent, for the way she stereotyped the characters. According to her Publisher at Flatiron, Cummins spent the past five years writing this book and they’re saddened by the backlash, because Cummins had good intentions for this work of fiction. Now her book tour is cut, and even before it was cut, Cummins already did some promotional work, but a Saint Louis based Bank Books canceled an event, and others, including California stores canceled their events as well.  However, despite the backlash Cummins is facing, her novel is still doing quite well. It is number 8 on the Amazon best seller list.

Image result for jeanine cummins"
Image via NBC News

 

Even though her tour is canceled, Cummins still has one more interview left. She has a major interview with Oprah this month that will air on Apple TV in March. Her interview is the third one chosen by Oprah to air on the streaming service. Oprah picked the book last fall for her book club, before the criticism arose, and according to Oprah, she hears the Latinx community and understands their concerns, and by meeting with Cummins she can get a better understanding from both sides.


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Featured image via CBS Baltimore

The Latest Dirt on Jeanine Cummins’ Novel

Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt has been deemed one of the most anticipated novels of 2020, included in Oprah Winfrey’s book club, and praised by Stephen King and John Grisham. Today, it’s being slated on twitter by literary fans and critics alike. This dichotomy of its reception puts the novel in a precarious position, with one foot on the side of success and the other in very hot water. When it comes to writing about race, sensitivity is one of the most important factors and Cummins’ latest novel is about Mexican immigrant experience, while Jeanine herself is not Mexican. This has set off alarm bells for a lot of people and raised questions about cultural appropriation and “trauma porn”. 

 

 

In a piece in the New York Times, Jeanine identifies herself as white, before going on to pen this novel about a Mexican mother and daughter and their tragic loss of family at the hands of a cartel. The pair must then escape to America. In the novel’s afterword, Cummins describes her motivation to write the novel as an effort to give a story to the “faceless brown mass” that immigrant communities are often seen as. This comment is, in itself, problematic as it raises the question of why Jeanine felt the need to individualize a “mass” of which she is not a part – the notion of the “white savior” comes to mind. 

 

image via slate

 

Fellow writers have shared their own opinions about the novel, either praising Cummins for her work or, more recently, slating it. Writer David Bowles, in a piece on Medium, stipulates that “Latina or no, Cummins certainly isn’t Mexican or Chicana. That’s a problem,”. What this suggests, is that the novel may well be “extraordinary” and well-written but its topic is still controversial and problematic.

 

 

Others have been critical of the plethora of errors and misrepresentations in Cummins’ descriptions of Mexico. This should come as no surprise when an author writes about a group with which they cannot personally or culturally resonate. In an interview with Shelf Awareness, Cummins spoke about her own hesitation to write American Dirt because of this. “I was resistant, initially, to writing from the point of view of a Mexican migrant because, no matter how much research I did, regardless of the fact that I’m Latinx, I didn’t feel qualified to write in that voice,”

If nothing else, this novel has already managed to fully divide readers and critics alike. Plus, the conversation around race and its misrepresentation in literature is one that certainly cannot be contained to American Dirt alone.

Featured image via Bookbub


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