Salma Hayek apologises for praising controversial new novel

NEW YORK (AP) — Salma Hayek apologised for promoting a controversial new novel, Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt, without actually reading it.

American Dirt tells the story of a Mexican woman and her eight-year-old son fleeing to the United States (US) border after numerous family members are murdered. The heavily publicised book has been praised by Stephen King and Ann Patchett among others and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club. Last Saturday, it ranked No 4 on Amazon.com’s bestseller list.

But numerous Mexican-American writers have called American Dirt an ill-informed narrative about Mexico that reinforces stereotypes. Cummins, a non-Mexican, even acknowledged in an author’s note that she had reservations about writing the novel. She has said she wanted to personalise the issue of immigration and be a “bridge” between different worlds.

Hayek had posted a picture of herself on Instagram holding the book, and she praised Winfrey for “giving a voice to the voiceless and for loving harder in response to hate.” But after facing criticism online, the Mexican-American actress pulled back, writing that she was unaware of any controversy.

“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight, because that means you know me and gave me the benefit of the doubt,” she wrote, “I apologise for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”

Actress Salma Hayek attends the world premiere of ‘Like a Boss’ at the SVA Theatre in New York. PHOTO: AP