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The Tortilla Curtain Paperback – 16 May 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (16 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747525722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747525721
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘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 an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

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

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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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Oct. 2003
Format: Poster
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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Heather Negahdar VINE VOICE on 14 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By J. Rousen on 16 May 2011
Format: Paperback
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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By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not in a long time have I been gripped like this by a novel, fretting, twisting, turning to the next chapter with my teeth clenched, hands clasped onto the slippery book covers, waking up to find out we still don't know what's next. This book sucks its reader into a vortex, the same its characters are remorselessly pulled into. And Boyle is a master at varying pace; the more sedate chapters are just short and interesting enough they don't turn into an interference.

The Tortilla Curtain is a hard-hitting tale. Parallel universes intersect to periodic, catastrophic effect, that of miserable Mexican illegals and wealthy, spoilt Californian locals. Candido and his young, pregnant wife live from hand to mouth, in constant danger from vagrants and vigilantes, not to mention the elements. For them, the American dream is just that: a dream, quite distinct from the nasty struggle for survival that is their lot. At the beginning of the novel, Candido gets hit by Delaney's car. Delany Mossbacher is the liberal whose beliefs fail the test of reality, writing articles on nature while his community is being fenced in, worrying about his estate-agent wife's dogs instead of the man he has almost killed and who is now starving on his doorstep.

The book opens with a quote from The Grapes of Wrath. It begins where the literary monument to the depression dropped off, on a roadside in California. And this is another catastrophe of destitution facing indifference, then hostility. My only complaint about The Tortilla Curtain is with its ending, which also echoes Steinbeck's book (there is a flood, a life is saved, and something else happens which I won't betray). Boyle's novel is ironic, frequently biting and sarcastic. The Grapes of Wrath is pure tragedy. One can't have a Steinbeck ending without the same classical build up to it; it is just too brutal. Or so was my feeling: please judge for yourself, you will find it worthwhile!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annief1 on 26 Dec. 2012
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 By Bob on 12 Feb. 2012
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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