Hector Tobar: ‘Deep Down Dark’

Hector Tobar

Hector Tobar, with Carolina Miranda of The Times, discusses “Deep Down Dark” at the Last Bookstore, photo courtesy of the Last Bookstore.

We stopped by  the Last Bookstore last night to hear our old friend and former colleague Hector Tobar talk about his latest book, “Deep Down Dark,” the story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days in 2010. The book was a New York Times bestseller and was one of the New York Times 100 notable books for 2014. It was also the basis for the movie “The 33,” starring Antonio Banderas, scheduled to come out in November.

Hector talked about how he got the job of writing the book after the miners signed an exclusive contract with a law firm (among other things, he had to prove that he wasn’t a faux Latino), get 33 men – and their families – to tell their stories, and weave all the stories into a cohesive narrative. He also praised the upcoming movie.

Héctor Tobar’s “Deep Down Dark” tells a modern-day odyssey from SOJC on Vimeo.

New York Times book review, Nov. 20, 2014.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book – for dedicated researchers – is that Hector was able to use a diary that was kept by one of the miners and various letters that were written while the men were trapped, rather than having to rely on their memories. The diary began as one man’s farewell letter to his family and continued for the duration.


The audience asked about how the men spent their time (they kept a regular schedule that included prayer), health hazards in the mine (Hector said the dust was the primary hazard and that the men tended to have silicosis) and what the men did after they were freed (the older men retired, others were semi-famous and got good jobs on the surface and a few returned to mining).

We look forward to reading the book and wish Hector the best on his next project, which he says is a novel.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 2010, 2014, Books and Authors, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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