Jeanine Cummins: ‘I worried that my privilege would make me blind to certain truths. I wished someone slightly browner than me would write it’

Jeanine Cummins’s novel American Dirt was heralded by other writers and the publishing industry alike, until a backlash about her ethnicity – and whether she was the right person to tell the story she did – nearly swallowed her whole. She stands by her work while acknowledging it has opened up a necessary conversation about who the gatekeepers are, in publishing and in life

16th February, 2020
Jeanine Cummins: ‘I worried that my privilege would make me blind to certain truths. I wished someone slightly browner than me would write it’
Jeanine Cummins‘s novel documents the experience of migrants illegally entering the United States; critics says she is the wrong heritage to be its author. Picture: Heather Sten

‘The question of who is allowed to write what stories – that’s a conversation that in this country has been simmering for a very long time. And people have very strong opinions on both ends of that conversation. I was cognisant of it. I was fearful of it. That’s why it took me so long to write this book.”

From her home in New York, Jeanine Cummins is telling...

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