Hector Tobar’s amazing writing career might have far exceeded his expectations. He worked as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times for more than 20 years, and during that time shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting the 1992 LA riots, was the Times bureau chief in Mexico, and a prolific columnist. It is interesting to note, and a comment on the changing lives of different generations, that Mr. Tobar’s immigrant dad also worked for the Times--as a delivery person. Hector Tobar now teaches at the University of Oregon. His recent books have gained serious recognition.
With his intimate knowledge of Southern California and how geography, economics and ethnicity divide people, Tobar’s novel The Barbarian Nurseries is an insightful look at how those living under the same roof do not communicate or understand each other. Araceli is a Mexican nanny who works for a well-to-do Orange County family whose members are involved in their upwardly mobile lives. Although employee and employers have little interest in or respect for each other, a series of circumstances forces them to re-think their cross-cultural differences.