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Los Angeles Times

Hector Tobar

Writer

Hector Tobar worked at the Los Angeles Times for two decades: as a city reporter, national and foreign correspondent, columnist and, more recently, with the books and culture department. He left in September 2014. Tobar was The Times’ bureau chief in Mexico City and Buenos Aires and was part of the reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots. He has also worked as features editor at the LA Weekly and as editor of the bilingual San Francisco magazine El Tecolote. Tobar has an MFA in creative writing from UC Irvine and studied at UC Santa Cruz and at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City. The Los Angeles-born writer is the author of three books. His most recent novel, “The Barbarian Nurseries,” was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2011 and also won the California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction. He’s married, the father of three children and the son of Guatemalan immigrants.

Recent Articles

  • 'The Half Has Never Been Told' looks at the economics of slavery

    'The Half Has Never Been Told' looks at the economics of slavery

    The image of the genteel, benevolent Southern slave owner was the creation of early 20th century artists and writers like D.W. Griffith and Margaret Mitchell. Life on the antebellum plantation, they led us to believe, was as languid as a slow-moving river winding through magnolia trees. At about...

  • A legendary Mexican publishing house celebrates its 80th birthday

    A legendary Mexican publishing house celebrates its 80th birthday

    In most Latin American bookstores, the volumes are not organized by subject matter, but by publisher. I learned this in my first visits to Mexico City bookstores as an undergraduate in the 1980s. In my favorite bookstore, the Liberia Gandhi, many shelves and walls were taken up by the orange spines...

  • In pulp writer's heaven: On the confessions of an Amazon author

    In pulp writer's heaven: On the confessions of an Amazon author

    By his own account, the Austin-based writer Neal Pollack long ago gave up trying to pen the Great American Novel. In 2011, his career as an author was effectively dead. He’d written one novel that sold very poorly, and four other books, and had a contract for a “pseudo self-help book” that his...

  • For Labor Day, an appreciation of unheralded literary labor

    For Labor Day, an appreciation of unheralded literary labor

    The other day, I exchanged emails with a self-published writer. Discussing Amazon’s dispute with Hachette, he argued that books are overpriced and what traditional publishers have to offer isn’t worth the high price they charge for books. What about the cost of editors? I asked. Proofreaders? Book...

  • 'Why Football Matters' versus 'Against Football'

    'Why Football Matters' versus 'Against Football'

    Unlike Steve Almond and Mark Edmundson, the authors of two terrific new books on football, I did not grow up with a father who loved the sport. My father thinks football is commercialized barbarism — 22 oversized idiots plowing into one another, following a byzantine set of rules no one truly understands....

  • Was Marion 'Suge' Knight shot over a book proposal?

    Was Marion 'Suge' Knight shot over a book proposal?

    It’s not often that you hear about assassination attempts linked to book proposals. Writing a book pitch, after all, is a notoriously quixotic thing to do. Publishers routinely "kill" books simply by rejecting them. And Americans are so blasé about books, it's hard to imagine anyone would resort...

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