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The Tortilla Curtain [Hardcover]

T. Coraghessan Boyle
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 1995
When Delaney Mossbacher knocks down a Mexican pedestrian, he neither reports the accident nor takes his victim to hospital. Instead the man accepts $20 and limps back to poverty and his pregnant 17-year-old wife, leaving Delaney to return to his privileged life in California. But these two men are fated against each other, as Delaney attempts to clear the land of the illegal immigrants who he thinks are turning his state park into a ghetto, and a boiling pot of racism and prejudice threatens to spill over.
--This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Viking Pr; First Printing edition (Sep 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670856045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670856046
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 491,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A harrowing, even horrific, tale … a remarkable feat of imaginative empathy’ -- Daily Telegraph

‘A powerful novel … One of the best books I’ve read this year’ -- Marie Claire --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

A classic novel by America's foremost novelist --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
AFTERWARD, HE TRIED TO REDUCE IT TO ABSTRACT terms, an accident in a world of accidents, the collision of opposing forces—the bumper of his car and the frail scrambling hunched-over form of a dark little man with a wild look in his eye—but he wasn't very successful. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you a Have or Have-not? 22 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This is such a wonderful read. Rich, insular American Dream coexists with desparate Mexican poverty. Comparisons with Steinbeck are inevitable but Mr Boyle can be proud of writing what I feel will be regarded as a classic to stand alone. A marvellous mix of characters interwoven with themes which challenge ideas and perceptions of race, class, wealth and consciensce.
Read this. You won't forget it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A deeply rewarding read about a wealthy white middle class couple, Delaney and Kyla, (her 6 yo son, "her matching Dandy Dinmont terriers, Osbert and Sacheverell, and her Siamese cat, Dame Edith") and an illegal immigrant Mexican couple whose lives collide in a series of unforgettable incidents. Kyla the main bread winner in the Mossbacher household is a real estate agent whose observations and personal habits are delightfully evoked by Boyle creating a wonderfully vile character. Candido and América's hauntingly down trodden lives and experiences are vividly portrayed as they encounter a series of humiliating and devastating events. One reviewer describes this book as a depressing read which it would be for those whose aspirations are to replicate the lifestyle of Kyla living in an upmarket residential estate in the foothills of Los Angeles.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written And Very Impressionable 14 Aug 2002
By Heather Negahdar VINE VOICE
This is the first for me, reading a book by T. Coraghessan Boyle, and I was very impressed by his work.
This book is set in Los Angeles and focuses strongly on two couples from totally different social and economical backgrounds. Kyra and Delaney Mossbacher are the upper class Americans; while Candido and America Rincon are illegal immigrants from South of the border.....Mexico.
The Tortilla Curtain is the border between Mexico and Los Angeles which the immigrants cross illegally to find work as labourers and a better way of life in that state.
The Mexicans endure severe hardships for little money as they enter this country of the 'well to do'. Meanwhile the 'upper crust' are flourishing for all to see, their main problem being to keep the immigrants out. As much as they are rich and better off one begins to feel that the immigrant Mexican has a more contented heart. They seem fulfilled at times with a deep satisfaction, passion and feeling that the 'upper crust' are unable to project. They are poor.....but their spirits are strong and hard to break.
See what life becomes for these two couples from opposite sides of the track....and you will find these characters living in your memories for a long time. This is the type of book that one hates to finish. Get it for Christmas....I got mine. Well written and highly recommended!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the tortilla curtain 16 May 2011
i purchased this book,and i just couldn't put it down,and tell my friends that theres a good book coming there way,i just wanted to jump in the book and right all the wrongs,it trulywas one of my favourite book iv'e read for a while i highly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel 26 Dec 2012
By Annief1
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this for the second time. I had never read anything buy Boyle before and I love his writing style - extremely accomplished and yet easy to read. I could not put this book down. The horrendous conditions of the Mexicans living condition and the rich lifestyle of the Americans provides a fascinating contrast and the last chapter is is riveting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read 12 Feb 2012
By Bob
Format:Kindle Edition
I had read and loved Drop City and was not disappointed by my second T C Boyle choice. The story is a real page-turner and the characters wonderfully developed. Boyle cleverly draws the reader's sympathies to each different perspective and weaves the stories together with huge skill, using such a vast range of unusual vocabulary. Well worth reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 29 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Read this for the BBC Bookclub July 2003, and not a book I knew of, or would have considered otherwise. I could not put it down!! A super read, giving two contrasting points-of-view.
Candido and America, the homeless, workless Mexican immigrants living in destitution in the canyon, are contrasted with Delaney and his family, the Americans living in luxury but with a fortress mentality, above the canyon.
Not an issue I had thought about, but so relevant even in Britain with the perceived threat from 'asylum-seekers' and 'illegal immigrants', and how all societies react to outsiders.
I felt for the Mexicans as the underdogs, but also for the Americans as their way of life is threatened.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the first T.C.Boyle book I have read - I have now ordered "Water Music" and "Riven Rock". Boyle is a natural story teller - I finished the book in two evenings. Candido and Delayney are well drawn (not "cardboard cut-outs as claimed in areview) and sympathetic characters. I was wondering if "Candido" was named after Voltaire's "Candide" - as every misfortune seems to befall him, yet he still retains his faith in God. Also his wife America - is her name symbolic? (The German translation is entitled "America"). The book does not hold back its punches - many events are cruel and there is no relief from the contrast between the comfortable and materialistic "gringos" and the poor, doomed Mexicans ("wetbacks") in search of a future. One US reader sees the ending as "unfinished" or a "cop out" - but I see it more as a symbolic statement of "we are all in this world together". The influence of Evelyn Waugh is certainly there but, whereas Waugh's cruelty would indicate a bitter and misanthropic character in the author, Boyle's humour seems to derive from a well intended but "I see the world as it really is" disposition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and gripping read, with echoes of Bonfire ...
An enjoyable and gripping read, with echoes of Bonfire of the Vanities. Bit of a cliffhanger, leaves me in anticipation of a followup, but I guess if it hasn't been written after... Read more
Published 2 days ago by A. Dekker
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking, excellent read
This is a superb novel. It interweaves the stories of wealthy Americans living in California and of the illegal Mexican immigrants trying to exist invisibly among them. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Canny shopper
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me.
This was a book club choice and I doubt I will finish it. The point of a book club is to introduce you to new genres but I am not enjoying this book.
Published 8 months ago by Elizabeth
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing
This is an excellent book, but the content is disturbing and shows how the 'haves' hold tight to what they own and the 'have nots' get less and less. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sheila B
1.0 out of 5 stars predictable
It was a thoroughly predictable novel a mexican Bonfire of the Vanities
not one on any level I could recommend
Published 20 months ago by mrs p neasmith
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
This is one of he most gripping books I have ever read.
It makes you think about social issues and human migration at a very personal level, and for me is up there alongside... Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2012 by James Blades
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but!
Good , but having read Riven Rock and The Inner Circle I expected this to be as clever a book and in that respect it failed . Read more
Published on 17 May 2011 by MrC
1.0 out of 5 stars Too Unreal
I read this book many moons ago. Or rather I persevered with it thinking it might turn out to be a good read. Read more
Published on 12 Feb 2011 by Susan Spain
4.0 out of 5 stars The American Dream
side by side the affluent Californian society and the world of illegal immegrants, both likeable
Published on 11 Dec 2009 by V. Vouilloz
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