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Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain by Lori L. Tharps

By Jen K. | Books | July 8, 2009 | Comments ()

By Jen K. | Books | July 8, 2009 |


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I read a review of this memoir over at Womanist Musings, and decided to get it. I'm not sure if there is much to add to that review, but I definitely enjoyed the book a lot. As Holly says, it is a easy, light read that addresses deeper issues.

Lori, the author, grew up surrounded by white people -- she generally fit in, but every once in a while she would hear jokes that were racist. They were never directed at her, but it made her feel like she was somehow inferior. However, when she tries to fit in with the black community in college, it doesn't quite work out.

Lori has an idea that travel could change her life -- she spends a few months in Morroco while in high school and studies abroad for a year in Spain. In Spain, she notices signs of racism in the culture, but her arguments are denied or ignored. After her marriage to a Spanish man she met during her study abroad, she spends her summers in Spain. However, she begins to feel more and more disconnected from the culture until finally she starts wondering if there is a history of slavery in Spain that has simply been forgotten in the hopes of finding a connection to Spain's past. She gets a magazine to pay for her research, and actually finds a few clues and articles about the forgotten blacks in Spanish history.

Living in Germany, every once in a while I'll see an older sign for a store that just strikes me as completely off -- obviously, Germany doesn't have the same racial history so the concern over here is more about anti-semitism but it's definitely interesting to see. In that way, I can definitely see where Lori is coming from, even though I have on occasion been described as the "whitest white girl" he knows by a friend of mine. I haven't been in a music store in ages, but Germany used to have a section titled "black music" -- not rap or hip-hop, but black music, which included Janet Jackson as well as Blackstreet etc. It was based completely on skin tone and not at all on music genre.

She also addresses some problems her marriage and relationship with Manuel has experienced, between her sometimes feeling like she should be dating her "own kind," and him feeling alienated from his homeland and culture. Additionally, she admits that Manuel can get frustrated when she turns everything into a race issue, but despite all the obstacles, they have managed to create a lasting and supportive relationship. Some of the points she brought up were also raised in the film Something New, so obviously she is not alone with some of her dilemmas.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Jen K's reviews, check out her blog, Notes from an Officer's Club.


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