What’s so controversial about ‘American Dirt’? | The Stream

“American Dirt”, written by Jeanine Cummins, tells the story of a middle class Mexican woman and her 8-year-old son who are suddenly forced to flee for the US border after a drug cartel murders their family. It has earned a coveted spot in Oprah Winfrey’s book club and garnered praise by the authors John Grisham and Stephen King, as well as Mexican American authors Sandra Cisneros and Erika Sanchez.

The newly published novel – written by an author who is neither Mexican nor a migrant – is now at the centre of a debate over who gets to tell the stories of historically marginalised people and the issues that can result from a lack of diversity in a white-dominated US publishing industry.

Cummins says the intent of the book was to humanise the US conversation around immigration. But, critics online say the book is rife with Mexican stereotypes and cultural misrepresentations.

In this episode, we’ll discuss reactions to the book and what the publishing industry should do to highlight the stories of underrepresented communities.

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