Héctor Tobar with Alejandro Varela: The Meanings and Myths of “Latino”

Thu. Oct 12, 2023 7:00pm - 8:00pm EDT
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Event Description

The Pulitzer Prize–winning writer explores what it means to be Latino in the United States.

Book Cover of Our Migrant SoulsIn his new book, Héctor Tobar writes that the feeling of being ni de aqui ni de alla—from neither here nor there—is the fundamental paradox of latinidad. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he uses the details of his own life and the broader past of Latinos in America to examine the impacts of colonialism, public policy, immigration, and pop culture as they relate to arguably the most open-ended and loosely defined of the major race categories in the United States.

Tobar discusses with author Alejandro Varela the long, complicated story of the historical and social forces that define Latino identity.

To join the event in person | Doors will open 30 minutes before the program begins. For LIVE from NYPL events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment; we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Booked seats that have not been claimed will be released shortly before start time, and seats may become available then. A standby line will form 30 minutes before the program.

To join the livestream | A livestream of this event will be available on the NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register! If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.


Héctor Tobar headshotHéctor Tobar is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and novelist. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark, as well as The Barbarian Nurseries, Translation Nation, and The Tattooed Soldier. Héctor is also a contributing writer for the New York Times opinion pages and an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. He's written for The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Timesand other publications. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, L.A. Noir, Zyzzyva, and Slate. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a native of Los Angeles, where he lives with his family. Our Migrant Souls is his latest book.

Alejandro Varela headshotAlejandro Varela (he/him) is based in New York. His work has appeared in the Boston, Yale, and Georgia Reviews, The Point Magazine, Harper's, and The Offing, among other publications. His debut novel, The Town of Babylon, was published by Astra House last year and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It was also longlisted for the PEN America Open Book Award and the Aspen Literary Prize. His short story collection, The People Who Report More Stress, which The New York Times called "a masterclass in analyzing the unspoken," debuted this past April, and is a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards. Varela is an editor-at-large of Apogee Journal, and he holds a master's in public health from the University of Washington.


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In-Person | Assistive listening devices and/or hearing loops are available at the venue. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template. This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs. 

Livestream | Captions and a transcript will be provided. Media used over the course of the conversation will be accompanied by alt text and/or audio description. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.



For questions and inquiries, please email publicprograms@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.

Please submit all press inquiries to Sara Beth Joren at least 48 hours before the event: email sarabethjoren@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.

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LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund, and the support of Library patrons and friends.

Héctor Tobar © Patrice Normand
Alejandro Varela © Allison Michael Orenstein

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Venue Details
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Celeste Auditorium (Lower Level) The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 42nd Street & 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018