25 votes

As a 28-year-old Latino, I'm shocked my new novel, Memoirs of a Middle-Aged White Lady, has been so poorly received

20 comments

  1. [8]
    eve
    Link
    This is delightfully hilarious. For those of you who don't know, this is a response to American Dirt, a book about immigrants written by a white woman who did minimal research. The consensus is...

    This is delightfully hilarious. For those of you who don't know, this is a response to American Dirt, a book about immigrants written by a white woman who did minimal research. The consensus is that the characters are poorly written, stereotypical, and that the author does not understand latinx culture. The book has gotten a lot of press and is one of Oprah's book of the month or whatever it is. Both the author and the publishing company have been catching a lot of flak because of how far the book made it before it had more than like 1 latinx person read the book and none of the primarily white people in this rodeo knew what they were doing or how it was written was offensive (an issue within the industry that the publishing house acknowledged that this brought that to light for them).

    The seriousness aside, the satire bites at some serious issues within the publishing world. It's fine to want to write about a story that isn't your own but you have to consider a few things; 1.) do your God. Damn. Research. 2.) consider whether or not it's your story to tell 3.) have people who aren't you and aren't like you read the story. There's nothing wrong with wanting to explore things that you're not familiar with, but there's definitely good and bad ways of going about it.

    22 votes
    1. gpl
      Link Parent
      Your take here reminds me of the review I read by Daniel Olivas, which touches on many of the same points: Link. For what it's worth, I agree completely.

      Your take here reminds me of the review I read by Daniel Olivas, which touches on many of the same points:

      And it’s not that we think only Latinx writers should write Latinx-themed books. No, this is not about censorship. A talented writer who does the hard work can create convincing, powerful works of literature about other cultures. That’s called art. American Dirt is not art.

      American Dirt is an insult to Latinx writers who have toiled – some of us for decades – to little notice of major publishers and book reviewers, while building a vast collection of breathtaking, authentic literature often published by university and independent presses on shoestring budgets. And while the folks who run Flatiron Books have every right to pay seven figures to buy and publish a book like American Dirt, they have no immunity from bad reviews and valid criticism.

      Link. For what it's worth, I agree completely.

      7 votes
    2. [7]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [3]
        krg
        Link Parent
        I'd definitely wouldn't expect to hear the term among the older, working class demographic. Or even among a lot of the younger generation. I'd say it's more of an academic term that's filtering...

        I'd definitely wouldn't expect to hear the term among the older, working class demographic. Or even among a lot of the younger generation. I'd say it's more of an academic term that's filtering down, at the moment.

        As a latino dude, I think that word is kind of an ugly solution to a problem that's not really a huge problem. I feel like the committee that came up with that word should've ended it in a vowel, at least. Like "latine" or "latinu". I think the "x" gives off like ... a faux-revolutionary vibe... and is kinda corny looking. But I wasn't part of those discussions, so 🤷

        13 votes
        1. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. moocow1452
            Link Parent
            Marvel has got to jump on this at some point and have "Latin-X" be a team at some point.

            Marvel has got to jump on this at some point and have "Latin-X" be a team at some point.

            4 votes
        2. eve
          Link Parent
          I definitely agree that ending it in a vowel would make much, much more sense. I initially was going to use the term latine, but wasn't sure if that'd be recognizable enough. It was a recommended...

          I definitely agree that ending it in a vowel would make much, much more sense. I initially was going to use the term latine, but wasn't sure if that'd be recognizable enough. It was a recommended spelling of it I came across that was also easier for text to speech configurations to read. But it's not necessarily something I use IRL, in part because neither are super common so far.

          4 votes
      2. gpl
        Link Parent
        Anecdotally, I saw it used by many of the Hispanic student organizations on my college campus. In day to day speaking with these people though it never really came up. It does seem to be a more...

        Anecdotally, I saw it used by many of the Hispanic student organizations on my college campus. In day to day speaking with these people though it never really came up. It does seem to be a more written convention as opposed to spoken, but definitely used by at least some younger people.

        As with all things, not everyone uses it. If you're interacting with people using it, I'd say use it.

        8 votes
      3. patience_limited
        Link Parent
        Latinx is an ungendered neologism that replaces "Latino" (male) and "Latina" (female). So yes, it's going to show up on college campuses first, but it's more inclusive. I can see why some might...

        Latinx is an ungendered neologism that replaces "Latino" (male) and "Latina" (female). So yes, it's going to show up on college campuses first, but it's more inclusive. I can see why some might think it's a forced or awkward-sounding imposition of "PC" terminology, but I know a couple of Latinx trans people who are happy with it. [There's the messy linguistic territory of Spanish language having genders for everything, with some pretty extreme implicit role biases.]

        "Hispanic", though also ungendered, will offend Brazilians, since they're not Spanish speakers.

        And, having just heard an NPR talking head refer to a Filipina as Latina... don't do this. Just because people in the Philippines were once colonized by Spain doesn't mean they think of themselves as Hispanic, and they're certainly not Latinx geographically. Most now speak Tagalog, and Philippine-Americans think of themselves as Asian-Pacific Islanders.

        Also, part of the problem is that there's no "Latinx" or Hispanic culture, singular.

        Depending on what part of the U.S. you're in, Latinx people may be predominantly from Mexico, or from any of a number of Central American, South American, or Caribbean nations. The immigrant communities are very different from state to state, with Mexican-origin populations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California that have been in the U.S. for more generations than most white people's families.

        "Latinx" people may be Spanish or Portuguese or Quechua or other indigenous language speakers. Some identify strongly with Spanish heritage, but many have a complex and bitter relationship with their colonial history. They may be highly educated in their mother tongues, literate only in English, or anywhere in between. They may be from urban, agrarian, or almost completely undeveloped communities. They may be Catholic, Jewish, practitioners of indigenous traditions, or atheists. And that's just describing the people I've met!

        Speaking as a middle-aged pale-tinted arguable female, it boggles my mind that anyone could claim to speak for a generic "Latinx" experience.

        7 votes
      4. eve
        Link Parent
        I've mostly seen it used online and from people both outside and within and have seen those within the culture encourage others to use the term when talking about it online. Like @gpl said, if...

        I've mostly seen it used online and from people both outside and within and have seen those within the culture encourage others to use the term when talking about it online. Like @gpl said, if you're with people who use it, use it! Otherwise it's a personal choice.

        2 votes
  2. [2]
    Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    Whew. That is some biting satire. I actually really liked this. It got a couple chuckles out of me and was really representative of an actual issue in the mainstream right now. So kudos to the...

    Whew. That is some biting satire. I actually really liked this. It got a couple chuckles out of me and was really representative of an actual issue in the mainstream right now. So kudos to the person on that. I also really liked the big papi reference (though that is the red sox bias)

    8 votes
    1. Ellimist
      Link Parent
      Think Papi ever got to the bottom of it? Sorry, couldn't resist...Yankee fan here

      Think Papi ever got to the bottom of it?

      Sorry, couldn't resist...Yankee fan here

      1 vote
  3. [7]
    cwagner
    Link
    I feel like this is sorely lacking some context?

    I feel like this is sorely lacking some context?

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Here you go. Edit: I picked this explainer because it seemed to be the most fair to the writers/editors involved. But the first two paragraphs sum up the perspective the author of the McSweeny's...

      Here you go.

      Edit: I picked this explainer because it seemed to be the most fair to the writers/editors involved. But the first two paragraphs sum up the perspective the author of the McSweeny's piece is coming from.

      12 votes
      1. vivaria
        Link Parent
        The anonymous interviews with editors at publishing companies have some... choice quotes, to be sure. and Yikes. I sort of forgot that there's a whole world of commercial entertainment out there....

        The anonymous interviews with editors at publishing companies have some... choice quotes, to be sure.

        “It’s a commercial book that was mispositioned as literary,” another senior publishing executive observed. Flatiron’s publisher, Bob Miller, essentially acknowledged this in a statement released Wednesday, noting, “We should never have claimed that it was a novel that defined the migrant experience.” This set American Dirt up for a degree of scrutiny to which most popular bestsellers are not subjected, at least not right out of the gate. “You can’t be Twitter woke and Walmart ambitious,” the assistant editor quipped.

        and

        No one I spoke to expected the controversy over American Dirt to harm the novel’s commercial prospects. “The consumers don’t care. They. Don’t. Care,” said one editor with exasperation. “If it does register, they’ll just write it off as PC.” While one source said he was sure the incident is “humiliating” to Cummins, her publisher, and other people associated with the book, “you can wipe your tears away with money.”

        Yikes. I sort of forgot that there's a whole world of commercial entertainment out there. The way the people on the other side talk about the people who consume this stuff... I feel a bit dirty reading that.

        7 votes
      2. cwagner
        Link Parent
        Oh wow. Sounds like some huge marketing fuck-up

        Oh wow. Sounds like some huge marketing fuck-up

        2 votes
    2. [3]
      The_Fad
      Link Parent
      It's supposed to be a satirical take on white authors who write books about different cultures and then get defensive about their creative choices when people are critical of them. The book isn't...

      It's supposed to be a satirical take on white authors who write books about different cultures and then get defensive about their creative choices when people are critical of them. The book isn't real.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        cwagner
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I got that much, but I didn’t even know that was a thing people do ;)

        Yeah, I got that much, but I didn’t even know that was a thing people do ;)

        2 votes
  4. [3]
    skullkid2424
    Link
    The link is now giving a 500 error for me, and may have been deleted.

    The link is now giving a 500 error for me, and may have been deleted.

    2 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Mirrors for those who are struggling to view the original: Outline.com Archive.org

      Mirrors for those who are struggling to view the original:
      Outline.com
      Archive.org

      4 votes
    2. eve
      Link Parent
      It works for me so it definitely hasn't been deleted. I had to refresh it a couple of times for it to catch.

      It works for me so it definitely hasn't been deleted. I had to refresh it a couple of times for it to catch.

      1 vote