discussing his new book
Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino”
published by MCD
Héctor Tobar is joined in conversation with John McMurtrie
A new book by the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer about the twenty-first-century Latino experience and identity.
“Latino” is the most open-ended and loosely defined of the major race categories in the United States. Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino” assembles the Pulitzer Prize winner Héctor Tobar’s personal experiences as the son of Guatemalan immigrants and the stories told to him by his Latinx students to offer a spirited rebuke to racist ideas about Latino people. Our Migrant Souls decodes the meaning of “Latino” as a racial and ethnic identity in the modern United States, and seeks to give voice to the angst and anger of young Latino people who have seen latinidad transformed into hateful tropes about “illegals” and have faced insults, harassment, and division based on white insecurities and economic exploitation.
Investigating topics that include the US-Mexico border “wall,” Frida Kahlo, urban segregation, gangs, queer Latino utopias, and the emergence of the cartel genre in TV and film, Tobar journeys across the country to expose something truer about the meaning of “Latino” in the twenty-first century.
Héctor Tobar is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and novelist. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark, as well as The Barbarian Nurseries, Translation Nation, and The Tattooed Soldier. Héctor is also a contributing writer for the New York Times opinion pages and an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. He’s written for The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times and other publications. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, L.A. Noir, Zyzzyva, and Slate. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a native of Los Angeles, where he lives with his family.
John McMurtrie is senior editor at the literary journal Zyzzyva, and also edits for McSweeney’s Publishing and the literary travel magazine Stranger’s Guide. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and Literary Hub. From 2008 to 2019, he was the books editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, where he wrote, assigned, and edited thousands of pieces, including reviews, essays, and profiles.
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/