Looking forward to reading all the ‘Dirt’

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, January 30, 2020

It seems “American Dirt” is stirring up a little dust.

Apparently, there are some folks that are not too pleased that Oprah Winfrey has named it one of her book club picks.

From listening and reading a little bit about the novel, I am struggling to understand why folks have a problem with this fictional story.

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As I have surmised from the little I know about the book, it revolves around the story of a Latino family fleeing from Mexico because of their entanglement with a drug cartel.

This sounds like a riveting story to me.

However, there are some critics that do not share my opinion.

As I understand, the scuffle over the book mostly relates to the author, Jeanine Cummins.

Cummins is not Latina, and her critics have accused her of stereotyping the Latino culture in the book. Some are saying that because she is from a different culture, she is not qualified to write this story.

So, I’m curious. When did it become a requirement for someone who wants to write a fictional story to have actually lived through the experience?

I could see this argument if Cummins tried to portray the story as a true account, but she didn’t, even after she devoted five years of research on the subject of the story.

A lot of authors write outside their experience.

Can you imagine a literary world where the only way you could write a story is if you had lived it?

There would be no more science fiction.

I don’t know of anyone who has lived in the future or traveled into outer space and met a Yoda.

And what about those authors who have male and female characters in their stories? Can’t a female writer bring to life a male character, or vice versa, and what about the stories with animals that speak?

And if writers can only write about their experiences, should we hold other professions to the same standards?

Should surgeons be prevented from performing operations on patients unless they, too, have been under the knife?

Also, hubby reminded me that hearing from another’s perspective could be of value.

In “Dispatches from Pluto,” Richard Grant wrote a beautiful story about the South.

Grant moved from New York to the Mississippi Delta, and in his book, he gives a northern perspective of the place we call home.

Ironically, until this week when I was watching the news, I had not yet heard about Cummins’ book, but rest assured, it’s got my attention now.

Therefore, Lorelei Books and the Vicksburg Public Library better stock up.

I imagine, like me, there will be others who’ve heard all the criticism and now want to buy the book to read for themselves about all this “dirt.”


Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at terri.frazier@vicksburgpost.com.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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