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The Tortilla Curtain (1995)

by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6731023,375 (3.75)133
Topanga Canyon is home to two couples on a collision course. Los Angeles liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacker lead an ordered sushi-and-recycling existence in a newly gated hilltop community: he is 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 Delany into intimate contact, these four and their opposing worlds gradually intersect in what becomes a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding.… (more)
  1. 20
    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.
  2. 10
    The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath 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.
  3. 21
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  4. 10
    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  5. 10
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (JuliaMaria)
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» See also 133 mentions

English (94)  German (6)  French (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
This is a rather exhausting story about the struggles of an illegal immigrant man and a sanctimonious upper-middle-class Californian after the immigrant is run over by the Californian and badly injured. It might be a more enjoyable read for people who feel a bit less existentially exhausted already; I was relieved when the book was over. The Californian family is the sort who moves into those fancy estate homes in the middle of once beautiful nature preserves. They start out by enjoying the scenery and then start eroding away at it until all the wildlife is gone and the countryside is 'tamed', and seem to feel personally insulted if wildfires and other natural events dare threaten their attempts at encroaching on these natural areas. Delaney, the sort of writer who provides light columns for very middle class outdoorsy magazines, thinks he is not racist, but he really very obviously is. Meanwhile the immigrant, Candido, has landed himself and his underage 'wife' (the youngest sister of his wife in Mexico, apparently) in a patch of California where they are completely out of place. Instead of falling into place with other Spanish speaking immigrants and finding out about private charities and other options that might help them, they wind up camping by a trash-littered creekbed. Everything is pretty dismal, black and white and nearly hopeless in this book. I'm sure that real illegal immigrants have stories like these, and real yuppie Californians too, but most of the sorts of people I know in real life never appear in the world of this novel.
( )
  JBarringer | Dec 15, 2023 |
engaging story about the rich and the poor ( )
  betty_s | Nov 27, 2023 |
This book was a lot more rape-y than I expected. Not sure exactly how much rape I had expected, but the amount in the book was definitely more.

Also, I didn't like the character Candido at all. At first he had my sympathies, and we were building a relationship with that, but then he turned out to be a huge asshole. The terrible way he treats his wife, his bullshit machismo at the cost of not only his own health but that of his wife and unborn baby, his complete stupidity when dealing with other people (Mexican and American) - all of this destroyed the sympathetic relationship I had with the character. I just ended up hating him.

We listened to this book on the drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, and it did pass the time. However, I will not be listening to the final hours of this book now that we are done with driving. I don't especially like the characters and I don't especially care what happens to them. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
In Southern California, lives of two very different families are chronicled. Delany and Kyra Mossbacher are middle class parents of 6-year old Jordan. Delaney is a nature writer and Kyra is a real estate agent. Both are aware of the increasingly negative effect that Mexicans are having on their environment. Candido and America Rincon, man and wife, are two illegal Mexican immigrants who find it increasingly difficult to maintain a subsistence level of existence. The lives of the these two families intersect during various portions of the book.

The characters were very stereotypical. I found it hard to like any of them because they were so one dimensional and disagreeable. The end of the book was as unbelievable as the characters were unlikable. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Apr 5, 2023 |
Very enjoyable read and creative. I can't say it's my all time favorite story since it bears resemblance to many others I've read. Regardless Boyle is an outstanding author. ( )
  Jonathan5 | Feb 20, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boyle, T. Coraghessanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ake, RachelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andrecht, Ernst H.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Capriolo, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Commandeur, SjaakTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gant-Britton, Lisbethsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gonzalo, Muniz MatitoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grüneis, RobertForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutierrez, SergioNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutierrez, SergioReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häupl, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heidenreich, ElkeRedakteursecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Imig, UlrichHerausgebersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merino, Juan FernandoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richter, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenblat, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubinowitz, TexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SilvermanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tex, Gideon denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For Pablo and Theresa Campos
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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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Topanga Canyon is home to two couples on a collision course. Los Angeles liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacker lead an ordered sushi-and-recycling existence in a newly gated hilltop community: he is 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 Delany into intimate contact, these four and their opposing worlds gradually intersect in what becomes a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding.

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