“The Tortilla Curtain,” by T.C. Boyle, left a lasting impression on me. I read it about 10 years ago, while spending the winter in a tent in Arizona, not far from the Mexico border. It really struck me at the time, and in light of current events, seemed a good one to revisit.
Two couples inhabit the land just outside of the urban jungle of Los Angeles: Middle class Kyra and Delaney, and Cándido and América, illegal immigrants struggling to find a better life far from their native Mexico. The novel begins with Delaney unexpectedly hitting Cándido with his car. The accident rattles Delaney, but rather than getting Cándido medical attention, he slips him $20, hoping he will disappear. The men part ways, but their lives are intertwined from then on. Boyle contrasts the vast differences between them throughout. They are both worlds away and just around the corner from one another, and they have very different lives and opinions about what it means to be American.
“The Tortilla Curtain” reveals the harsh realities of survival among desperate people, and the relentless, driving hope that motivates anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming a part of the melting pot that is “The American Dream.”
Keena KimmelOwner of White Rabbit Books and Curiosities