American Dirt was released on January 21, 2020.
On January 21, Oprah Winfrey announced her latest Oprah ’ s Book Club foot, the new novel american Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Winfrey tweeted : “ From the first gear prison term, I was IN … Like so many of us, I ’ ve read newspaper articles and watched television receiver news stories and seen movies about the betroth of families looking for a better life, but this report changed the means I see what it means to be a migrant in a whole fresh way. ” Winfrey besides posted a television of her endorsement to the Oprah ’ s Book Club Twitter history, saying, “ I was opened, I was shook up, it woke me up, and I feel that everybody who reads this reserve is actually going to be immersed in the experience of what it means to be a migrant on the run for exemption. So I want you to read. Come read with us, and then join the conversation with Jeanine Cummins on Apple TV+ coming this March. ”
Hello, chap book lovers ! My adjacent @ oprahsbookclub choice is “ american Dirt ” by @ jeaninecummins. From the first conviction, I was IN. pic.twitter.com/uonqIa3QRK
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 21, 2020
Book Twitter reacted to the announcement with speed, although possibly not in the way Oprah ’ south team would have wanted, citing the recent # OwnVoices movement. american Dirt has been the subjugate of controversy and criticism since 2019, when early readers first offered their opinions after seeing progress copies. The book has been called “ stereotyped, ” and “ appropriative ” for “ opportunistically, egotistically, and parasitically ” telling the fabricated report of a Mexican beget and son ’ s journey to the frame after a trust murders the rest of their family. One of the more common knocks is that the book engages in “ brownface, ” incorporating a nominally mexican position that was written by a woman who — adenine recently as 2016 — identified as “ white. ” In the lead-up to American Dirt ’ s secrete, Cummins revealed she has a Puerto Rican grandma. The conversation surrounding american english Dirt ’ s “ ripped from the headlines ” approach to telling this migrant history in an american english voice for american readers places it within ongoing debates in the ignite earth about who can tell what stories .
Some professional critics besides had at American Dirt in the days before its January 21 exhaust. New York Times book critic Parul Sehgal said that the “ ecstatic and brainsick praise ” the book has received in the press might be owed in part to the fact that “ tortured sentences aside, American Dirt is enviably comfortable to read ” and “ determinedly apolitical. The deep roots of these forced migrations are never interrogated ; the american proofreader can read without fear of uncomfortable self-reproach. ” Some of that praise besides comes from the Times ; in the Book Review, Lauren Groff was ultimately ambivalent but called the book “ propulsive ” and “ western fence lizard, ” and regarded its polemic “ elementary moral universe ” as a feature preferably than a microbe. Groff ( who, for the record, is white ) praises Cummins ’ s efforts and excuses her annexation, whereas Sehgal ( who is not ) questions Cummins ’ mho stated motivation in writing this floor :
Shouldn ’ t the floor matter, her feat to individuate people portrayed as a “ faceless brown mass ” ( her words ) ? In the book ’ s afterword, she agonizes about not being the good person to write the book ( “ I wished person slightly browner than me would write it ” ) but decides that she has a moral obligation to the fib .
Groff caused an even further Twitter stir when the New York Times Books account tweeted a associate to her recapitulation with this ( since-deleted ) pull quote : “ ‘ american Dirt ’ is one of the most racking books I have read in a few years, with the ferocity and political reach of the best of Theodore Dreiser ’ s fresh. ” Groff responded : “ Please take this down and station my actual review. ” apparently this quote was from an “ early adaptation ” of her review, to which she had made “ free radical changes. ” still, this faux pas was enough to ignite Twitter discussion about who should have the platform to review certain stories, in accession to who should write them .
After Oprah announced Jeanine Cummins ’ s controversial american Dirt as her latest record Club pick, immigration reporter Aura Bogado shared a tweet the author posted back in November, showcasing a “ reasonably ” nail-art interpretation of her reserve crown, which features a barbed-wire invention. Bogado critiqued Cummins ’ s “ crude pleasure of proudly wearing this claim symbol of oppression as a fashion statement, ” sparking a new curl of scandalization over what ’ sulfur seen as a blatant ocular representation of how Cummins is insensitively capitalizing on immigrant injury .
Jeanine Cummins got a barbed wire manicure. The fetish here, the common pleasure of proudly wearing this demand symbol of oppression as a fashion statement and claiming it ‘s “ pretty, ” is literally making me nauseating. I wan sodium throw up. hypertext transfer protocol : //t.co/AdOlPwz6mw— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) January 23, 2020
What is amiss with all of you ? Barbed wire manis ? Are you intentionally trolling for bad urge or just legit this dense and or like actually cruel ?— Chelsea Peretti (@chelseaperetti) January 23, 2020
then on January 26, Oprah posted a two-minute video to the Oprah ’ s Book Club Instagram, announcing that as a response to the “ outpouring … of very passionate opinions, ” she spoke with members of the Latinx community about their concerns with american Dirt and will air an Apple TV+ consequence in March to “ bring people together from all sides to talk about this book, and who gets to publish what stories. I ’ thousand hop that that is going to resonate with many of you and your concerns. ”
After this announcement, writers Roberto Lovato, David Bowles, and Myriam Gurba began tweeting under the hashtag # DignidadLiteraria as a “ call to politico-literary action, ” and many authors and activists are using the hashtag along with # ownvoices in their calls for better representation. Vox reported that Immigrant Youth Group United We Dream is petitioning Oprah to include more Latinx and immigrant authors in the Book Club. On January 27, the Oprah ’ s Book Club Instagram report moved forward as usual, posting the read agenda for american Dirt. The history posted the schedule with the caption : “ Over the next several weeks we will be using this platform to share a diverse range of message, including books by Mexican and Latinx authors. More to come. ”
On January 29, American Dirt ’ randomness publisher Flatiron Books released a instruction from its president of the united states, Bob Miller, about how they were “ surprised by the anger that has emerged from members of the Latinx and publishing communities ” in reaction to the book ’ south release and Flatiron ’ s character in tone-deaf publicity. Miller acknowledges “ unplayful mistakes, ” such as barbed-wire centerpieces at a bookseller dinner, and that they “ should not have said that Jeanine ’ s husband was an undocumented immigrant while not specifying that he was from Ireland. ” In the statement, Miller announced that Flatiron will cancel the script tour, citing “ concerns about condom ” and “ particular threats to booksellers and the writer. ”
statement from Bob Miller ( President & Publisher, Flatiron Books ) regarding AMERICAN DIRT : pic.twitter.com/S4sQetyS2s— Flatiron Books (@Flatironbooks) January 29, 2020
many replies to this affirmation find it to be inadequate, using language of “ white privilege, ” “ victimhood, ” and “ dog whistling ” to frame Latinx concerns about the book as violent and chilling, rather than just writing an apology with a predict to improve their practices. many commenters took exit with passages from the statement, like “ it ’ mho unfortunate that she is the recipient role of hatred from within the very communities she sought to honor. We are saddened that a work of fabrication that was well-intentioned has led to such caustic resentment. ”
Flatiron Books : “ We apologize … ”
“ Well that ’ s a start. ”
Flatiron Books : “ … for how barbarian & atrocious black and brown university people in the Latinx community are acting towards us. ” pic.twitter.com/3gLSO6tUGU— X (@XLNB) January 30, 2020
good say you messed up. Organziers, activists, writers like us who are besides committed to social department of justice and change do not threaten harm the fact that you are using this stereotype to cancel the tour reinforces your unwillingness to be accountable .— Rosa A. Clemente (@rosaclemente) January 29, 2020
At the end of the statement, Miller announced that in seat of the script tour, Flatiron Books will organize a town-hall series “ where Jeanine will be joined by some of the groups who have raised objections to the book. ” There are no further details so far about this series of meetings .
On February 4 at a pre-Oscars brunch event in Beverly Hills called “ Defining Women : The Power of Lifting Up Women ’ second Voices From Hollywood to Washington, D.C., ” Eva Longoria drew a joining between the American Dirt controversy and similar concerns over white gatekeeping in Hollywood. InStyle quoted her say :
“ I have not read the book. I will not read the book. It ’ mho precisely twin and synonymous with what ’ s happening in entertainment, what ’ randomness happening in politics. The gatekeepers of the industries do not reflect the people and the consumers that they serve, ” Longoria said. “ That ’ s the problem. ”
“ There ’ s a bid war over this book, which means all the publishers wanted this koran. And they wanted some screen of way in to a different community. The trouble with that is that the publish industry is 80 % white, from agents to editors and publicists. ”
Longoria besides critiqued Flatiron for the room it handled concerns from the Latinx community about american Dirt, saying, “ What made me very upset was when the publisher said, ‘ We had to cancel the book tour because of safety concerns, ’ which made my community look like we ’ rhenium brainsick people going to cause trouble. We ’ re not. We ’ ra equitable being outspoken about the inaccuracies of what this book represents. ” Longoria besides endorsed novels that depict similar stories to American Dirt that were actually written by Latinx authors — Enrique ’ s Journey by Sonia Nazario, and The Beast by Óscar Martínez. But, as Longoria pointed out, “ Oprah didn ’ thymine pick them. ”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, American Dirt has already been optioned for a movie adaptation by Charles Leavitt, the writer of Blood Diamond, and Imperative Entertainment, the production company behind Clint Eastwood ’ s The Mule. While you wait for that come out, you can add your name to a 150-plus person bear number for american Dirt at your local library and catch Oprah ’ south Apple TV+ feature on it in March .
This post has been updated throughout .