Travel with a Book is a bi-weekly travel book publication by Mark. This week’s recommendation is Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain by Lori l. Tharps

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Google “female travel books” and you will get a lot of catchy blog post titles like “The 28 Most Empowering Books all Female Travelers Should Read”. Add “Black” in front of the female and the results reduce significantly. I know Amarachi’s blog and other awesome blogs like Naijanomads and Unravelling Nigeria are trying to change this. 

Luckily, we were still able to find a good list of travel books by Black Writers and we chose Lori Tharps’ Kinky Gazpacho to start. The book is a memoir that spans from her childhood in the mostly white suburbs of Milwaukee to having a child of her own with the guy of her dreams.

Her stories oscillate between the lighthearted and funny (like the time a young Moroccan boy awkwardly asked her to marry him on their first “date”) to the deep and edifying, where she struggles to affirm her humanity and discover the simple, but difficult lesson that “you have to make your own happiness.”

The beginning is fantastic, but towards the end, the stories digress a little and the writing style lacks density. 

Overall, it’s worth reading, especially as protests to call for Black lives to matter continue around the world. 

Some Memorable Quotes from Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain

“So,” Mrs. Fletcher was saying, “instead of your uniforms you are all supposed to come to school dressed in the clothing of your ancestors… My ancestor were slaves!

And me being the only Black child in my class, my shame was my own.

Everybody knew that Black people came from nothing.

“Is your daddy White?” she asked me. “No. Why?” I responded. “Well, why do you talk like that?”

Thanks to all my interactions with teenagers from around the world, I found out how cosmically insignificant America was. I discovered that not all people witnessed every event through the prism of race. And even if they did, the concept of race had a million different definitions, depending on whom I was talking to.

People here, it seemed, were free to follow their hearts. And with that freedom, I felt the weight of race removed from my burdened shoulders.

Give love, get love…

“You have nothing to lose, so go ahead and do the things you’ve always been afraid of and never had a chance to experience.”

Spain hadn’t embraced me, hadn’t welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to forget about the color of my skin. If anything, being in Spain had made me more aware of being Black, but that wasn’t a bad thing, I realized, because once I got past the irritating stares and comments, I was allowed to redefine Black for the Spaniards who really cared to listen and learn.

To travel, I must always move through fear, confront terror.

Kinky Gazpacho

You can purchase the book here.

One Comment

  1. Avatar

    I read this book with Mark and agree that beginning started out great. Overall, I enjoyed reading it although, when I picked it up, I was expecting something more…

    I often talk to Mark about my visit to Spain and how, up till this day, I can’t exactly pinpoint why I suddenly felt so conscious about being a Black traveller. I felt so conscious that I couldn’t wait to leave. I had visited a few European countries (on the same trip) before Spain and a few after but it was only in Barcelona I felt this way, even though I had no preconceived notion about the country.

    When I picked up the book to read, I was hoping that the author would help me put into words, the feeling I experienced and what might have triggered it. She didn’t but perhaps, this was an unrealistic expectation from the start.

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