The Barbarian Nurseries: Book summary and reviews of The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar

The Barbarian Nurseries

A Novel

by Héctor Tobar

The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar X
The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2011
    432 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

With The Barbarian Nurseries, Héctor Tobar gives our most misunderstood metropolis its great contemporary novel, taking us beyond the glimmer of Hollywood and deeper than camera-ready crime stories to reveal Southern California life as it really is, across its vast, sunshiny sprawl of classes, languages, dreams, and ambitions.

Araceli is the live-in maid in the Torres-Thompson household - one of three Mexican employees in a Spanish-style house with lovely views of the Pacific. She has been responsible strictly for the cooking and cleaning, but the recession has hit, and suddenly Araceli is the last Mexican standing - unless you count Scott Torres, though you'd never suspect he was half Mexican but for his last name and an old family photo with central L.A. in the background. The financial pressure is causing the kind of fights that even Araceli knows the children shouldn't hear, and then one morning, after a particularly dramatic fight, Araceli wakes to an empty house - except for the two Torres-Thompson boys, little aliens she's never had to interact with before. Their parents are unreachable, and the only family member she knows of is Señor Torres, the subject of that old family photo. So she does the only thing she can think of and heads to the bus stop to seek out their grandfather. It will be an adventure, she tells the boys. If she only knew...

With a precise eye for the telling detail and an unerring way with character, soaring brilliantly and seamlessly among a panorama of viewpoints, Tobar calls on all of his experience - as a novelist, a father, a journalist, a son of Guatemalan immigrants, and a native Angeleno - to deliver a novel as broad, as essential, as alive as the city itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"His sharp eye for Southern California culture, spiraling plot twists, ecological awareness, and ample willingness to dole out comeuppance to the nauseatingly privileged may put readers in mind of T.C. Boyle." - Publishers Weekly

"Billed as a panoramic social novel of Los Angeles, this strikes me as a panoramic social novel of America." - Library Journal

"A lively novel that examines both edgy stereotypes and uncomfortable truths." - Kirkus Reviews

"Héctor Tobar's The Barbarian Nurseries is that rare novel that redefines a city. It has the necessary vital sweep of culture and class that brings a city to life, but its power lies in Tobar's ability to persuasively change the perspective from which the Los Angeles of the present - and, by extension, the United States - is seen. This book confirms the promise of Tobar's debut novel, The Tattooed Soldier." - Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago

This information about The Barbarian Nurseries shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Jonniepat

Just another "OK" read
Too much cataloging, though it did convey a picture of just too much everything.

Louise J

It Was Okay
The Barbarian Nurseries was a fairly good read although I found it to be quite mundane and too drawn out in parts.

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More Information

Héctor Tobar, now a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and a novelist. He is the author of Translation Nation and The Tattooed Soldier. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a native of the city of Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and three children. You can visit his website at www.hectortobar.com.

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