#WritingMyLatinoNovel Is One Way to Tackle Stale Literary Stereotypes

Jan 22, 2020
4:43 PM

Tuesday was the official release day of American Dirt, a novel written by Jeanine Cummins which has already been surrounded by controversy. The plot involves a middle-class Mexican mother and son who flee to the U.S. after their family was slaughtered by a cartel gang. (What an original idea.) It was chosen by Oprah as her next Book Club selection.

But wait there’s more, Cummins actually wrote this line: “I wished someone slightly browner than me would write [the novel]” and it’s already chronicled that she has made the pivot to being Puerto Rican after saying she has always identified as white. (Read the definitive take on this from author Myriam Gurba.)

Still, the book has gotten a lot of praise, being hailed as “Extraordinary,” a “great American novel,” and a ton of publicity. One author compared it to The Grapes of Wrath, despite the book’s seriously bad Mexican tropes.

So in response, writer John Paul “Juanpa” Brammer took to Twitter with the phrase “writing my Latino novel” to draft up his own mock-plot featuring some of the most ridiculous tropes and stereotypes about Latinos. Many others followed suit and the results are, well, you can see for yourself

There is now a hashtag for it. Of course there is.

We’re wondering if there’s anyone who would assume these are actual stories and not realize they’re a joke—oh yeah, probably everyone who green-flagged American Dirt.  Seriously, what’s the difference, as the first five pages of Cummins’ new novel show?