Hector Tobar, writer
I'm a novelist, journalist, and a proud native of the city of Los Angeles. Follow me on Twitter: @TobarWriter


My novel, The Barbarian Nurseries, a tale of modern Southern California, is published in hardback by Farrar, Straus and Giroux , and in paperback by Picador

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011

A Los Angeles Times Best Books of 2011

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2011

A Boston Globe Best Fiction of 2011

Winner of the California Book Award

Gold Medal for Fiction for 2012

"The Barbarian Nurseries is a book of extraordinary scope and extraordinary power... Stubborn, even-tempered Araceli is a great and somewhat daunting character, worthy of Gabriel García Márquez." --Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Hector Tobar's novel is astonishing, like a many-layered mural on a long wall in Los Angeles, a tapestry of people and neighborhoods and stories. A vivid testament to Southern California as the world. Araceli is so unexpected and unique; she's a character America needs to see, and this novel takes her on a journey America needs to understand." --Susan Straight

"Tobar...exhibits a seismographic sensitivity to the tensions along the fault lines of his cultural terrain. [His] portraits, acute and humane, render his characters intelligible. His illuminations become our recognitions." --New York Times Book Review

"Tobar delivers a riveting, insightful morality tale of conspicuously consuming Americans and their Mexican servants in the O.C...Tobar is both inventive and relentless in pricking the pretentious social consciences of his entitled Americans, though he also casts a sober look on the foibles of the Mexicans who serve them. His sharp eye for Southern California culture, spiraling plot twists, ecological awareness, and ample willingness to dole out come-uppance to the nauseatingly privileged may put readers in mind of T.C. Boyle." --Publishers Weekly

"This is a novel of Los Angeles, and maybe the finest we'll see for many years. It is also a novel that triumphantly transcends geography and delivers a stirring look at the borders of our expectations, both great and small." --Los Angeles Review of Books

"Tobar's superb multilayered novel defines the social divide of Southern California, emphasizing in a complex and human way that there are no black-and-white answers in the immigration debate."
--Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Tobar’s altogether strange and wonderful heroine…is proud, talented, bitter, bitterly funny, naive, imposing and severe. She’s unlike the hero of any novel I can remember reading…”--Bloomberg

“…a ripping novel—and a proper adventure yarn—about power and identity in 21st century California.” --San Francisco Chronicle

The Barbarian Nurseries is a virtuosic and hard-hitting novel about social schism in Southern California…Tobar exposes disturbing and enlightening ironies about the perpetuation of both privilege and disadvantage.” --Times Literary Supplement.

“…brimming with interwoven stories that form a vibrant portrait of Los Angeles…a marvelous pastiche of social commentary ensconced in a family domestic drama.”--Booklist, (Starred Review).

"The Barbarian Nurseries is a huge novel of this century, as sprawling and exciting as Los Angeles itself... A story that was demanded; we can celebrate that it is now here." --Dagoberto Gilb

"Sad, funny, seemingly inevitable — such are the metaphors and insights from Héctor Tobar, an author from whom we expect nothing less, and look forward to more." --The Washington Post

My novel The Tattooed Soldier is published in paperback by Penguin Books and was a finalist for the PEN USA West Award for Fiction..

  Learn more about The Tattooed Solider

Set in the tenements, tunnels, alleys and parks of immigrant Los Angeles, and in Guatemala during the  military dictatorship there, The Tattooed Soldier is a political novel about love, justice and revenge.


 A little while back, a Dutch documentary crew asked me to define what Los Angeles is and how it became what it is today.My answer, on You Tube.

 You can write to mehere.

If you've read one of his books, or his journalism, he'd love to hear from you.

photo by Doug Knutson ©

You can hear my interview with Karen Grigsby Bates of NPR's Morning Edition here.

Listen to my talk with the legendary Michael Silverblatt of Bookworm, here.

And finally, my talk at the Los Angeles Central Public Library's ALOUD series, with my longtime friend Jesse Katz, is podcast here.

The Barbarian Nurseries is published in the UK by Sceptre...

...and is available in French from Belfond, in Italian from Einaudi, in German from Piper, in Canada by Harper Collins Canada, and in an Audio Book version by Blackstone Audio

I'm the son of Guatemalan immigrants, and I've written three books in all...

Learn more about my second book, a work of literary reportage published by Riverhead Books: Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States 

"A triumph...Crosswires de Tocqueville's Democracy in America with Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries."

--New York Times Book Review

I've also written many essays and several hundred newspaper stories. These days, I write a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times, my hometown newspaper--my father used to deliver it.

Some years back, I got an MFA in Creative Writing at the prestigious fiction writing program at UC Irvine.

And for a decade, I was a National and Foreign Correspondent for the L.A. Times. Below, a picture of me taken by one of my sons when I was the Mexico City Bureau Chief of the L.A. Times.

Click here to read my reporting from Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Iraq, Los Angeles and many other places around the world.