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The Tortilla Curtain by Tom Coraghessan…

The Tortilla Curtain (1995)

by Tom Coraghessan Boyle (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,753732,130 (3.76)103
  1. 21
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  2. 00
    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  3. 00
    The Harvest Gypsies by John Steinbeck (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: These are articles Steinbeck wrote about how California has used immigrant labor in it's history. Nothing like The Tortilla Curtain, but it is interesting background and will give you something to think about.
  4. 00
    Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America's Illegal Aliens by Ted Conover (Mrs.Stansbury)
    Mrs.Stansbury: If you would like to read a nonfiction account of illegal immigration try "Coyotes" by Ted Conover. Both Conover and Boyle attempt to be unbiased in their writing and open eyes to all sides of the issues associated with illegal immigration.

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» See also 103 mentions

English (69)  German (4)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Here is a book that I feel I could read several times and still not get all of the many layers and themes it encompasses. It is the tale of 2 families, one affluent and White, one extremely poor and Mexican, and how their lives mixed.

Emotionally, it is a difficult read that addresses issues of homelessness, poverty, racism, rape, and other violence. It is a book I wish I could say is "total fiction", but unfortunately I cannot.

Very worthy of your time and thoughts. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Here is a book that I feel I could read several times and still not get all of the many layers and themes it encompasses. It is the tale of 2 families, one affluent and White, one extremely poor and Mexican, and how their lives mixed.

Emotionally, it is a difficult read that addresses issues of homelessness, poverty, racism, rape, and other violence. It is a book I wish I could say is "total fiction", but unfortunately I cannot.

Very worthy of your time and thoughts. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Very disappointing. I liked the idea of contrasting a white upper class family with a poor Mexican immigrant couple, but the author swings the hammer too hard.

The immigrant's wife's name is "America." Why not just call her "Liberdad," or "La Tierra de los libres"? She and her husband, Candido, live in squalor in the canyon near a fancy housing development, where Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher grill tofu and fret about their teeny tiny dogs getting eaten by coyotes.

I appreciate the effort to draw attention to the challenges immigrants face. Candido finds himself in an impossible situation, not able to make enough money even to pay for a roof over his head. It's desperate and tragic. In this novel, there isn't enough work for the immigrants, they'd have been better off staying in Mexico, and they resort to crime to survive.

Delaney considers himself a liberal, initially believing that everyone has rights, even illegal immigrants, but events turn him into a paranoid racist.

I find some of the descriptions racist. Almost all of the Mexicans have eyes like "pits" except for the one really evil Mexican who has scary yellow eyes.

I have heard a rule of the theater that if a gun is introduced on stage, it better go off. I groaned inwardly when the gun is first mentioned, especially since it comes into play so late in the book. It just wasn't believable to me, AND it doesn't go off.

The ending is completely unresolved. We don't know what happened to Delaney or what Candido and America will do next. Probably because the author doesn't know either. ( )
  keneumey | Jun 4, 2014 |
Delaney Mossbacher discovers, after accidentally sending an illegal immigrant flying over the hood of his car, how quickly guilt can turn to anger - and then to hate. This novel focuses on two families living in close proximity. Delaney and his wife, Kyra, live in an exclusive housing development in the Californian hills - lots of Spanish missionary style architecture, lots of getting close to nature. Candido and his wife, America, are illegal Mexican immigrants, sleeping rough in the canyon below the housing development, hiding from Immigration and trying to earn enough to rent an apartment. Boyle moves evenhandedly between the two families while charting the erosion of Delaney's liberal humanist values under the weight of peer pressure. Meanwhile the coyotes move in. This powerful tale is universal in its examination of how a sense of otherness, accentuated by language barriers and skin colour, can prevent people from recognizing each other's humanity, can excuse them from feeling the need to do so, and about how easily we can all slip away from our principles.
  Oandthegang | May 26, 2014 |
I first read The Tortilla Curtain as a book club selection back in the 90s. I was prompted to reread the novel when a friend laid up with a slipped disc mentioned that she had picked it up because of its local (Santa Rosa, CA) notoriety as a censorship target (a parent at a local high school attempted to get the novel removed from a required English class reading list). Although the title of the novel may sound like that of a steamy Tennessee Williams play, the book's DNA is closer to that of the Bible (there are both Fire & Flood), Steinbeck & Voltaire. Allegory & satire are its modes. Hard to miss when the characters are the Mossbachers,an affluent white couple who live in a recently walled & gated luxury subdivision perched above Topanga Canyon in LA (Delaney Mossbacher is, of course, an environmentalist who writes a nature column), and Candido & America (can't get more allegorical than that), a couple of illegal Mexican immigrants who live the most hardscrabble of existences in that same canyon while trying to get work and save money to move out before their baby (aptly named Socorro)is born. As in Voltaire's "Candide," in "the best of all possible worlds" (America the "Golden Mountain") everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong during the course of the novel. In fact, it is almost too much to bear, even though while reading one is fully cognizant that these are representative characters rather than realistic ones. The lives and fates of both families entwine in mostly catastrophic ways throughout. The ending, like that of Grapes of Wrath, comes when it seems that the worst has already happened and there is nothing left to hope for--with a gesture so humane that it must lie more deeply-seated than humankind's vile deeds portend. ( )
1 vote Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boyle, Tom CoraghessanAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grüneis, RobertForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häupl, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richter, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They ain't human. A human being wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand it to be so dirty and miserable. — John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
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Afterward, he tried to reduce it to abstract terms, an accident in a world of accidents, the collision of opposing forces - the bumper of his car and the frail scrambling hunched-over form of a dark little man with a wild look in his eye - but he wasn't very successful.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014023828X, Paperback)

Winner of the Prix Medicis Etranger

Topanga Canyon is home to two couples on a collision course. Los Angeles liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher lead an ordered sushi-and-recycling existence in a newly gated hilltop community: he a sensitive nature writer, she an obsessive realtor. Mexican illegals Candido and America Rincon desperately cling to their vision of the American Dream as they fight off starvation in a makeshift camp deep in the ravine. And from the moment a freak accident brings Candido and Delaney into intimate contact, these four and their opposing worlds gradually intersect in what becomes a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The lives of two different couples-wealthy Los Angeles liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher, and Candido and America Rincon, a pair of Mexican illegals--suddenly collide, in astory that unfolds from the shifting viewpoints of the various characters.

» see all 9 descriptions

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