Friday, February 7, 2020

Texas Native Eva Longoria Piles on to the American Dirt Controversy

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2020 at 10:28 AM

Thought we were done with American Dirt? Think again.

Yet another Latinx luminary unleashed on the problematic novel about Mexican migrants this week: Texas-tied actress Eva Longoria.

According to InStyle, Longoria weighed in on the controversy at a "Defining Women" brunch hosted by feminist PAC Emily's List in Beverly Hills on Wednesday.

"I have not read the book. I will not read the book," she said.

"It's just parallel and synonymous with what's happening in entertainment, what's happening in government. The gatekeepers of the industries do not reflect the people and the consumers that they serve. ... That's the problem."

Longoria cited publishers' "bidding war" over American Dirt, which resulted in a seven-figure advance for its self-identified white author Jeanine Cummins.

"There's a bidding war over this book, which means all the publishers wanted this book," Longoria said. "And they wanted some sort of way in to a different community. The problem with that is that the publishing industry is 80% white, from agents to editors and publicists." 

Longoria was far from done, though: "What made me really upset was when the publisher said, 'We had to cancel the book tour because of safety concerns,' which made my community look like we're crazy people going to cause trouble. We're not. We're just being outspoken about the inaccuracies of what this book represents."

She finished things off with a flourish, shouting out Latinx writers who are writing their stories but not receiving attention from the powers that be. That stands in stark contrast to American Dirt-apologist Sandra Cisneros' insistence in an interview with NPR's Latino USA that anyone upset by the novel need only to "write your own" version.

"The last thing I'll say that it really pissed me off — I'm gonna say it, I'm gonna get crazy — is [Cummins said] 'I wish a browner person than me wrote this book,'" Longoria said.

"They did! It was [Sonia Nazario's] Enrique's Journey, [Óscar Martínez's] The Beast — many Latino authors have written this story! Oprah didn't pick them."

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