A white lady wrote a book about Mexican migrants and all hell done broke loose. The novel, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, was hyped to the hilt by its publisher and the author was given a staggering seven figure advance. AD has received harsh criticism from many Mexican and Latinx writers who’ve called it exploitative and phony, and that the book’s success is indicative of deeper issues of representation and appropriation within the publishing industry (via New York Times). Then Oprah chose it for her book club selection and all hell done broke even looser. Well, The Mighty O has spoken. According to Jezebel, she’s heard the complaints (just like she heard the complaints of 50 cent and Russel Simmons), and is ready to address them at her next book club meeting which will air exclusively on Apple TV+.
According to Jezebel:
The outrage over the book and its author, Jeanine Cummins, reignited the ongoing debate of who gets to share what stories in the Latinx community, and how. It also brought the absence of diversity in publishing front and center. In response to the criticism, Oprah posted an Instagram video on Sunday explaining that she had been reading the many comments and critiques coming from the Latinx community and felt that the best way to address the “outpouring” as she called it was to turn to her latest revenue source, Apple TV+, and stream a discussion.
Here’s Oprah acknowledging the controversy surrounding her latest book club selection, and explaining why she chose it in the first place.
Meanwhile, not even Oprah can protect Jeanine from the backlash. A book signing event was just cancelled as whispers of plagiarism are getting louder. (Via Laist)
A brief statement was also issued on Vroman’s website: “The publisher has cancelled the event but not before our staff and our community engaged in critical conversations about immigration, the horrible atrocity happening at the US border by the US government, freedom of speech, and own voices.”
This event has been canceled by the publisher. For more information, please visit the link below.https://t.co/YZ2d9OQWaD
— Vroman's Bookstore (@vromans) January 27, 2020
@SchmidtTales "I don’t believe any of Cummins’ writing meets the legal definition of plagiarism. She was clever enough to sufficiently reword and reframe these elements, and credits these authors as “inspiration” in her epilogue. . . .https://t.co/qDWYAePATG
— ProfessorLatinx (@ProfessorLatinx) January 25, 2020
Honestly, I’m more likely to subscribe to Apple TV+ for this type of drama over anything currently starring Jennifer Aniston.
Oprah, lounging in a silk robe, sipping her morning coffee, copies of Groff's and Seghal's reviews of AMERICAN DIRT on the coffee table. She picks up her phone and thinks: I'll show these literary girls what chaos is
— joshua gutterman tranen (@jdgtranen) January 21, 2020
Although, the way things work these days, Jennifer will probably be playing Jeanine when they eventually make this mess into a TV show for Apple TV+, in which case, I’m in.