The language is tortured and immensely obnoxious. I experience a strong desire to vomit when I read these pathetic, miserable sentences. But the author is not wrong. This is a very big, important issue.
“Latino” isn’t a look. It isn’t a race. It isn’t an ethnicity. There are millions of black Latinos, and it’s deeply annoying that many people in the US don’t even realize that.
I watch a lot of Mexican telenovelas, and it’s ridiculous that everybody is extremely white in them. “I thought you were watching a Mexican soapie,” N says, glancing at the screen. “But where are Mexicans?”
If anybody a little bit more tanned appears in a telenovela, it’s always as a servant and dressed in the traditional indigenous attire. Which is extremely stupid.
This Lin-Manuel Miranda fellow milked eager US progressives out of tons of money. You got to be stinky rich to see Hamilton. And now that they have a legitimate complaint against him, I think he should listen.
Spain is a 300-page beautiful, rambling essay about Spain’s national identity.
Alba Rico, a profoundly erudite professor of literature in Tunisia, never read Cervantes or Galdós (the Spanish Dickens) because he was so leftist that he couldn’t abide the thought of doing something as patriotic as reading these national authors. When leftism became too virulent and stupid for Alba Rico to abide, he finally read these authors and realized what an incredible moron he had been to avoid them and to despise the idea of homeland and national culture.
This realization led him to write this book and explore the subject of national identity and the reasons why the left has abandoned the concepts of nation and patriotism. I can’t say I agree with Alba Rico in everything. Many of his beliefs I don’t share. But the book is great. And it’s great to see even lifelong leftists realize that they’ve been duped into believing some rabidly stupid stuff.
This is the Ukrainian writer from Spain that I mentioned recently, and Desencajada (Out of Place) is her first novel.
Yakovenko is a great admirer of Hemingway, and her prose is very unadorned, clean, and whatever is the opposite of fussy. If you teach Hispanic literature, I highly recommend this book for your students. It’s really easy to read. It’s short, it’s cheap on Kindle, and you really can’t go wrong with this one as a teacher.
Out of Place is an autobiographical novel. Yakovenko’s parents became illegal immigrants in Spain in 1999, almost exactly when I became a legal immigrant to Canada. She was 7 years old, and her novel describes the tragedy that migration is to a child who didn’t choose it and can’t make peace with it. People aren’t suitcases. You can’t move them around without damaging them. The protagonist of Yakovenko’s novel is a traumatized, confused woman who can’t find a way to make peace with what happened to her. This book isn’t a work of genius like Fernanda Melchor’s The Tempest Season but it’s a strong novel that tells an important story in a beautiful way.
I also want to mention that I don’t share the author’s political beliefs. Her take on the war in Ukraine is imbecilic. And her cheerleading for open borders is even more so, given that her own art belies it. But none of that matters. It’s a good novel that should be read.