The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011 and a Boston Globe Best Fiction Book of 2011. The great panoramic social novel that Los Angeles deserves--a twenty-first century, West Coast Bonfire of the Vanities by the only writer qualified to capture the city in all its glory and complexity. 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.

Since this will be a potluck, if you're planning to attend, please let us know what kind of food you plan to bring (side or main dish, salad, bread, dessert, etc.) in your RSVP. I'll send you the address about a week before the meeting.
Note: if you sign up and don't get an email with the location and details within the week before, please let me know at [masked].

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  • Catherine

    Great discussion. This is a well-read group and I always come away with new insights and lots of suggestions for more books for my to-read list.

    December 18, 2012

  • Sara T.

    good depiction of california alittle slow and boring at the begining

    December 16, 2012

  • Cynthia

    Good eats and a lively discussion. A very fun evening.

    December 16, 2012

  • Henry

    Very enjoyable event - thank you all.

    December 16, 2012

  • Elaine

    Hi All, I just sent an email with the location and other details to those who indicated they plan to attend this meeting. Meetup email can be flaky, so if you don't get the email within the next few hours, please send me a message with your email address and I'll contact you directly.

    December 9, 2012

    • MYRA K.

      I will not be able to make Sunday's meeting - went online and changed my RSVP. Looking forward to the next one!

      December 11, 2012

    • Elaine

      We'll miss seeing you, Myra!

      December 12, 2012

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