“American Dirt” promotional tour canceled for author’s safety
The publisher of the controversial novel by Jeanine Cummins suspended the promotion of the book arguing fears about the author’s safety.
The novel about a Mexican mother and her young son, who escape to the US border for drug violence, had been widely praised before its publication on January 21 and was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her club book. But after several criticisms by Mexican-American authors began to circulate regarding the cultural inaccuracies and stereotypical portraits of Mexicans by the writer, whose ancestry is Irish and Puerto Rican.
“Jeanine Cummins spent five years of her life writing this book with the intention of shedding light on the tragedies faced by immigrants,” Bob Miller, president, and editor of Flatiron Books said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are saddened that a work fiction that was well-intentioned has led to such corrosive rancor.
“Unfortunately our doubts about security have led us to the difficult decision to cancel the book tour.”
Why “American Dirt” is controversial?
“American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins, one of the most anticipated and controversial novels of the year, is the new book selected by Oprah Winfrey for her reader club.
The book, published on Tuesday, follows the owner of a bookstore in Acapulco, Mexico, who loses much of her family at the hands of a drug cartel and flees north on a terrifying journey with her 8-year-old son. She has been acclaimed by many but also criticized for reinforcing “rancid Mexican stereotypes” and for forced language that shows that it is the work of an outsider.
It was acquired by Flatiron Books in 2018 with a millionaire contract and has been commented on in the literary world since then. It has appeared in numerous lists of books to be read in 2020, ranked among the 20 best-selling Amazon before its publication, and has been praised by writers such as John Grisham, Stephen King, and American Latinas Erika Sánchez and Sandra Cisneros.
Cummins recently spoke with the AP, said the first time she thought about writing the book was in 2013, inspired by several reasons. Her husband emigrated from Ireland and she remembered how many years it took to get her residence permit, and anxiety, before they married, in fear of being deported. I was also moved by what I considered a sensational immigration coverage, and, more indirectly, by her pain from a 1991 tragedy, when two of her cousins were raped and forced to jump from a bridge to their deaths.
“So many stories focus on violent men and violent macho stories about people who commit atrocities,” she said. “My hope was to show the narrative in a new framework, from the point of view of people on the other side of violence.
“Cummins, who has Irish and Puerto Rican ancestors, said she spent a lot of time in Mexico and met many people on both sides of the border. Her novel has raised questions, however, about whether she, who is not Mexican or immigrant, was apt to tell this story. Cummins herself has expressed her doubts. In the epilogue of the book, she wrote: “I wished that someone a little darker than I had written it.” And then she added that maybe she could serve as a bridge. “I thought, ‘if you are the person who has the ability to be a bridge, why not be a bridge? ‘” Cummins wrote.