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American Dirt: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Extraordinary.”
Stephen King

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
—Sandra Cisneros

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as "a Grapes of Wrath for our times" and "a new American classic," Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

About the Author


Jeanine Cummins is the author of the novels The Outside Boy and The Crooked Branch, and the bestselling memoir A Rip in Heaven. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

Praise For…


Vogue: The 22 Best Books to Read This Winter
Marie Claire: The Best Winter 2019 Book Releases to Curl Up With on Your Couch
Real Simple: Most Anticipated Books of 2020
PopSugar: 22 of the Best Books This Winter Has to Offer

“I strive to write page-turners because I love to read them, and it’s been a long time since I turned pages as fast as I did with American Dirt. Its plot is tight, smart, and unpredictable. Its message is important and timely, but not political. Its characters are violent, compassionate, sadistic, fragile, and heroic. It is rich in authenticity. Its journey is a testament to the power of fear and hope and belief that there are more good people than bad.”
John Grisham

American Dirt is both a moral compass and a riveting read. I couldn’t put it down. I’ll never stop thinking about it.”
Ann Patchett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dutch House and Commonwealth

“Why do we read fiction? By immersing ourselves in the lives of fictional characters we gain emotional depth, breadth, and empathy. We become more human. I have never felt more changed—or challenged—by a book than I have by American Dirt. It’s truly a revelation.”
Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Summer of ’69

“Relevant, powerful, extraordinary. It is a remarkable combination of joy and terror, infused always with the restorative power of a mother's love and the endless human capacity for hope. I hope everyone reads it and is as moved by it as I was.”
Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone

“Riveting, timely, a dazzling accomplishment. Jeanine Cummins makes us all LIVE and BREATHE the refugee story.”
Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies

American Dirt is an extraordinary piece of work, a perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it. The prose is immaculate, and the story never lets up. This book will be an important voice in the discussion about immigration and los migrantes; it certainly puts the lie to the idea that we are being besieged by ‘bad hombres.’ On a micro scale—the story scale, where I like to live—it’s one hell of a novel about a good woman on the run with her beautiful boy. It’s marvelous.”
Stephen King

“From its heart-stopping first sentence to its heart-shattering last, Cummins’s story of immigrants is just what we need now. Gritty yet sensitive, realistic yet hopeful, grand and granular, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a Grapes of Wrathfor our times.”
Don Winslow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Border

“Jeanine Cummins writes with such grace, compassion, and precision that I could not stop reading.”
Erika Sánchez, author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

“This is a book that’s both hard to read and hard to put down and will no doubt spark a lot of conversation.”
Real Simple

“Time to sink into American Dirt.”
Entertainment Weekly

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
Sandra Cisneros

American Dirt is an urgent, blistering, unforgettable book. In her portrayal of Lydia and Luca, a mother and son forced to leave their Mexican home, Jeanine Cummins has given face to migrants everywhere who flee violence and near-certain death in search of only one thing: a chance at life. Beautifully written, thrilling in its propulsive force, American Dirt is a new American classic.”
Tara Conklin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Romantics

“The story of the migrant is the story of our times, and Jeanine Cummins is a worthy chronicler. At once intimate and epic, American Dirt is an exhilarating and beautiful book about parental love and human hope.”
Rumaan Alam, author of That Kind of Mother and Rich and Pretty

“Urgent and unforgettable, American Dirt leaps the borders of the page and demands attention, especially now.”
Sarah Blake, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Postmistress and The Guest Book

“A powerful, moving, and unforgettable read.”
Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us

“This tough, powerful novel is an eye opener. It made me understand better why someone would give up the home they know and love to survive, and the grit required to cross that border. It is essential reading for our time.”
Tracy Chevalier, bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring

“This extraordinary novel about unbreakable determination will move the reader to the core.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Lydia and Luca are utterly believable characters, and their breathtaking journey moves with the velocity and power of one of those freight trains. Intensely suspenseful and deeply humane, this novel makes migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border indelibly individual.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

American Dirt may be the don’t-miss book of 2020.”
Booklist (starred review)

“This is a book everyone should read.”
Woman & Home

“This powerful new novel promises readers a ride they’ll never forget.”
She Reads

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250209764
ISBN-10: 1250209765
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 21st, 2020
Pages: 400