LA Weather writer María Amparo Escandón aims to turn Latino stereotypes on their head – Orange County Register
Forget those fall temperatures: call this the spring of María Amparo Escandón’s novel LA Weather.
“I feel like a rebirth, a renewal,” Escandón says of the paperback edition, which came out in September alongside the Spanish edition (titled “El Clima de Los Angeles”), which is due out October 14. I’ll be speaking to Beatriz Acevedo on October 11 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center (To register for the free event, click here.)
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When the novel was first published in 2021 amid the depths of the pandemic, like thousands of writers whose books were published in the worst days of Covid, she was unable to go on a traditional book tour or promote it with in-person events. She had done so with her first two books, Esperanza’s Box of Saints, published in 1999, and Gonzales & Daughter Trucking Co. in 2005.
But pandemic or not, “LA Weather” still managed to turn heads.
In addition to making the New York Times Best Seller list, the novel was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and numerous “Best Of” lists (including Real Simple, Harper’s Bazaar, Barnes & Noble, CNN, Ms . magazines). , and Good morning America). Set against the backdrop of a tumultuous year plagued by political unrest, drought, and wildfires, the fast-paced story follows the lives of the Alvarados, a modern-day Mexican-American family navigating a series of upheaval and betrayal.
“It was actually surprisingly well received because it’s a very local story,” says Escandon, who began calling LA home after moving here from Mexico City in 1983. “People have said to me, ‘I wasn’t interested because you talk so much about the freeways, which I’ve never been on because I’m not from LA.’ And I answer that there are different types of readers. Readers interested in the familiar, things they know and are comfortable with. And then there are other readers who like to be taken to new places and explore other worlds. I don’t blame anyone if they feel alienated by the fact that it’s a very local culture. But at the same time, other people really, really enjoyed it, because in a way, and that was kind of my goal, it debunks some myths about LA.”
“You know, there are people out there who have never been to LA who think we all live like the Kardashians!” Escandón laughs as she says this. “And we don’t do that. We suffer from normal, simple old lives. We’ll do the dishes. We have our own aches and pains and anguish and things that happen to us. We struggle to pay the bills. So I wanted to do a metaphor with the LA weather and everyday people’s lives because there’s also a myth that it’s always 72 and sunny. We have weather and we have terrible weather.”
Another of those myths that she works hard to dispel—not just in this novel but in all of her writing—is a Latino stereotype: The characters in “LA Weather” include a father who comes from a family that has lived in California since before it was a state; a mother from a Jewish family who emigrated to Mexico from Poland; and three young, urban, working daughters pursuing their successful careers.
“I wanted to make these characters far from cliche, to complicate our views of Latinos,” says Escandón, addressing stereotypes she wanted to break down.
“There’s this idea that all Latinos are just one big monolith,” she says. “That’s not true. There are so many of us. We have the whole spectrum of society, just like any other group.”
Another goal of LA Weather was to “change the narrative” around Latinas, she says.
“I wanted the three sisters in the book to have successful careers because that’s the trend. That’s exactly what’s happening now. Latina women excel in college, they’re the number one ethnic group to start businesses in America, they come in full force,” says Escandón, who might as well describe herself.
After arriving in the United States with no money or contacts, she and her then-husband managed to build a thriving advertising agency, representing national brands like Wells Fargo. She has also worked as a screenwriter and film producer – the film “Santitos”, based on her first novel, became a huge hit in Latin American countries and helped launch the avant-garde of modern Mexican cinema, winning 14 international awards.
Still, there is a problem, she believes. “There’s this stereotype we have to fight against — this mindset that Latina women are always stuck at home with a bunch of kids. Which of course are some – I mean I have two kids myself and so on. But we have to work harder to get where we want to be because we’re kind of swimming against the tide. I wanted to give my two cents to help change that narrative a bit.”
Her success in portraying a differentiated portrait of Latinos in the United States was undoubtedly part of what earned LA Weather the honor she held dear when she won the International Latino Book Awards’ prestigious Rudolfo Anaya Fiction Book Award .
“This is the first award I’ve won for my writing,” says Escandon, who has also taught writing through the UCLA Extension Writers Program for more than two decades. “I was so humbled because writers came from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and from all over the Spanish speaking world.”
After all these years, she says, it was a sweet endorsement.
“I think I finally know what I’m doing!”
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/06/l-a-weather-author-maria-amparo-escandon-wants-to-upend-latino-stereotypes/ LA Weather writer María Amparo Escandón aims to turn Latino stereotypes on their head – Orange County Register