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Hector Tobar, Author of First-Year Class Book "The Barbarian Nurseries," to Speak at Bridges Auditorium on September 2

Hector Tobar

As part of the Class of 2016’s first-year book experience, author Hector Tobar will be speaking at Bridges Auditorium on Sunday, September 2, at 6:30 p.m. A book signing at 6 p.m will precede the event, which is free and open to the public.

Tobar’s book The Barbarian Nurseries (2011) is a multi-layered journey about immigrant lives, class conflicts, identity, and race and cultural divisions in contemporary Southern California. The book’s protagonist, a Mexican maid working for a family in Orange County, must care for her employer’s children after a misunderstanding. She decides to bring them to central Los Angeles to find their estranged Mexican grandfather.

Tobar won the California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction for The Barbarian Diaries. The book was noted as a best book of 2011 by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe. The New Yorker wrote that Tobar “weaves an intricate urban tale animated by a creative, savvy protagonist,” and The Seattle Times wrote “That Tobar is so evenhanded, so compassionate, so downright smart, should place his new novel on everyone’s must-read list.”

A columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Tobar was previously the newspaper’s bureau chief in Mexico City and Buenos Aires and the national Latino affairs correspondent. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his work covering the Los Angeles riots. His first novel, The Tattooed Soldier, is set in the impoverished immigrant neighborhoods of L.A. in the weeks before the riots. His nonfiction book Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States is a cross-country look at how Latinos are forging new identities in the United States and redefining the experience of the American immigrant. Born in Los Angeles, Tobar earned his bachelors degree at UC Santa Cruz and his MFA in creative writing from UC Irvine.

Each year, the incoming freshman class receives a book to collectively read and then discuss when they arrive on campus. The book is selected by the Orientation Committee under the direction of the dean of students, the coordinator of the Critical Inquiry Seminar Program, and faculty members. Student leaders and numerous other faculty and staff also read the book and participate in and lead discussions.