The Library will be closed on Monday, May 27, 2024, in observance of Memorial Day.

Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino” Héctor Tobar

Héctor Tobar
In conversation with Carribean Fragoza
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Episode Summary

"'Stories about empire,' Tobar writes, 'move us because they're echoes of the memories that reside deep in our collective consciousness.' Latinos, after all, are people' living with the hurt caused by war and politics, conquest and surrender, revolution and dictatorship.'" —The New York Times

"Latino" is the most broadly defined major race in the United States. In Pulitzer-Prize-winner Héctor Tobar's new book, Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of "Latino," Tobar recounts his personal experiences as the son of Guatemalan immigrants and the stories told to him by his Latinx students to offer a thoughtful reproach 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.

Participant(s) Bio

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. His new book is Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino”. 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 YorkerThe 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.

Carribean Fragoza is a fiction and nonfiction writer from South El Monte, CA. Her collection of stories Eat the Mouth That Feeds You was published in 2021 by City Lights and was a finalist for a 2022 PEN Award. Her co-edited compilation of essays, East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte, was published by Rutgers University Press, and her collection of essays Writing Home: New Terrains of California is forthcoming with Angel City Press. She has published in Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, Zyzzyva, Alta, BOMB, Huizache, KCET, the Los Angeles Review of Books, ArtNews, and Aperture Magazine. She is the Prose Editor at Huizache Magazine and Creative Nonfiction and Poetry Editor at Boom California, a journal of UC Press. Fragoza is the founder and co-director of South El Monte Arts Posse, an interdisciplinary arts collective. She is a 2023 Whiting Literary Award recipient.