A new book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about the twenty-first-century Latino experience and identity.

Product Code: 9145
ISBN: 9780374609900
Format: Hardback
Publisher: MCD
Pages: 256
Published Date: 05/09/2023
Availability:In stock
Price: $27.00

Winner of the 2023 Kirkus Prize for nonfiction.

"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.

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Prologue: Our Migrant Souls

Part I: Our Country
1. Empires
2. Walls
3. Beginnings
4. Cities
5. Race
6. Intimacies
7. Secrets
8. Ashes
9. Lies

Part II: Our Journeys Home
10. Light
11. Home

Conclusion: Utopias


Pulitzer winner Tobar (The Last Great Road Bum) explores in this probing, heartfelt essay collection the promises and contradictions inherent within Latino identity. Aiming to help young Latinos “untangl[e] the roots of the racist ideas about us,” Tobar interweaves autobiographical reflections on growing up in L.A. and visiting his family in Guatemala with profiles of undocumented immigrants; cultural analyses of how Latinos are portrayed in American films, television, and literature; and historical vignettes on the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica, the annexing of New Mexico and California, the rise of the Chicano Movement, the “militarization” of the U.S. border with Mexico, and more. Throughout, he highlights the diversity of Latinos (“Latino people are brown, Black, white, and Indigenous, and they are European, Asian, and African. Some of us speak excellent Spanish, but many more of us do not”) and fiercely critiques the “static, one-dimensional images” of suffering immigrants that saturate U.S. journalism. Lyrical and uncompromising, this is a powerful call for all Americans to “dedicat[e] our energy and our intellects to creating new ways of being in the world.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

Our Migrant Souls is an important contribution to the growing body of work offering answers to a seemingly simple question: What is a ‘Latino’? In precise yet lyrical prose, Héctor Tobar leads readers on a tour of the United States of America, where to be Latine often means to go unseen.” - Myriam Gurba, author of Mean

The master writer puts on his maestro cap to give us memoir, media criticism, meditation, travelogue, history lesson, and so much more, in a style and pacing with all the brilliant nuances and hues that Latinos exemplify.” - Gustavo Arellano, author of Ask a Mexican

"Ultimately, Our Migrant Souls is one of the most important pieces of Latino nonfiction in several decades. Tobar’s blend of philosophy, narrative and history puts him on the same level as literary giants such as Eduardo Galeano and James Baldwin. Turning the last page of this book, you will feel the weight of history on your shoulders—yet it is an uplifting experience." - Bookpage, starred review

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