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The First Novelist Accused of Cultural Appropriation

Reflections on my father’s novels The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice, in the age of American Dirt

A couple of news cycles ago, I came upon a Facebook post about the Jeanine Cummins novel American Dirt that hit close to home.

  • Alexandra Styron
  • The Atlantic

Although the book had debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, criticism was raining down from all corners: It wasn’t good.

It wasn’t realistic.

It wasn’t deserving of the money and advance praise that had been heaped upon it.

Above all, Cummins was being called out for appropriating the immigrant experience, and for worrying that she might not be “brown enough” to tell the story but doing it anyway.

In the Facebook post, a…

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