Ask the Dust is a virtuoso performance by an influential master of the twentieth-century American novel. It is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young writer in 1930s Los Angeles who falls hard for the elusive, mocking, unstable Camilla Lopez, a Mexican waitress.
Struggling to survive, he perseveres until; at last, his first novel is published. But the bright light of success is extinguished when Camilla has a nervous breakdown and disappears . . . and Bandini forever rejects the writer's life he fought so hard to attain.
Ask the Dust is the most popular novel of Italian-American author John Fante, first published in 1939 and set during the Great Depression-era in Los Angeles. It is one of a series of novels featuring the character Arturo Bandini as Fante's alter ego, a young Italian-American from Colorado struggling to make it as a writer in Los Angeles.
The book is a roman à clef, much of it rooted in autobiographical incidents in Fante's life. The novel influenced Charles Bukowski significantly. In 2006, screenwriter Robert Towne adapted the novel into a film Ask the Dust.