Book 83 authors ask Oprah to remove ‘American Dirt’ from her book club

Book 83 authors ask Oprah to remove ‘American Dirt’ from her book club


Oprah Winfrey announces ‘American Dirt’ as her book club pick– and releases a big debate.

Image: CBS via Getty Images.

By Rebecca Ruiz

Oprah’s American Dirt debate isn’t ending anytime quickly.

On Sunday, the literary tastemaker lastly responded to criticism that her new book club choice, American Dirt, is inadequately composed and riddled with stereotypes and mistakes Jeanine Cummins’ novel, which follows a middle-class Mexican lady and her child as they flee a drug cartel, had been hyped as a “ Grapes of Rage for our times,” however critics argued that its cartoonish portrayal of an immigrant’s predicament would do more harm than excellent.

Oprah assured to have “a deeper, more substantive discussion” about the book in an upcoming episode of her Apple TELEVISION show

If Oprah believed that would quiet the outrage, she was wrong. In an open letter published Wednesday on the site Literary Hub, 83 authors urged Oprah to reevaluate American Dirt as a main Oprah’s Book Club selection. That number has actually given that grown to more than 100 authors.

” This is not a letter requiring silencing, nor censoring.”

” This is not a letter calling for silencing, nor censoring,” the authors composed. “But in a time of extensive false information, fearmongering, and white-supremacist propaganda associated to migration and to our border, in a time when adults and kids are dying in US immigration cages, we think that a novel messing up so badly in its representation of marginalized, oppressed people ought to not be lifted up.”

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” We are asking just that you remove the influential imprimatur of Oprah’s Book Club, as you have in the past upon discovering that a book you ‘d championed wasn’t what it first appeared to be.”

In 2006, Oprah eliminated the book A Million Little Pieces from her club when it ended up being clear that the author, James Frey, had actually fabricated some parts the memoir.

The letter’s signatories include Tommy Orange, author of the Pulitzer Reward finalist book There There, Valeria Luiselli, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and author of the novel Lost Children Archive, Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of the immigrant advocacy nonprofit Define American and author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, and Myriam Gurba, a vocal critic of American Dirt and author of the narrative Mean

By Wednesday afternoon, hours after the signed letter was published, American Dirt‘s publisher Flatiron Books announced it had canceled Cummins’ book tour due to “ concerns about safety” Activists and critics had previously shared strategies online to go to Cummins’ events to question her about the book’s depiction of immigrants and Mexican culture, to name a few subjects.

Since the controversy over American Dirt emerged recently, Latinx authors have actually utilized the hashtag #DignidadLiteraria as a method of accentuating a “community of 60 million left off of bookshelves and out of the national discussion.” The dispute has likewise focused on the absence of variety in the publishing market, which Latinx authors mention as a crucial factor why American Dirt ended up being a literary juggernaut despite its many defects.

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The letter’s signatories stressed that while it’s possible for authors to compose “outdoors” of their own experiences, such writers have a “duty to envision well, properly, and with complexity.”

” This letter is not composed to attack Cummins, a fellow author whose intents we can’t know,” they wrote. “But excellent intentions do not make excellent literature, particularly not when the execution is so malfunctioning, and the outcome so hazardous.”

UPDATE: Jan. 29, 2020, 1: 38 p.m. PST This story was upgraded to include the announcement that Flatiron Books had actually canceled the American Dirt book trip.