Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is Lori L. Tharps reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Lori L. Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain and other works.

Her entry begins:
Right now I'm really into fiction. I'm always interested in seeing how other authors tell stories about race and culture without relying on stereotypical story lines and predictable characters. That's why I loved the last few books I've read, because they cover familiar issues in wholly unique ways.

First I read Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From The Sky (Algonquin). Knowing that the book won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for fiction, I had high hopes for the book. And I wasn't disappointed. The story follows the life of a young girl, Rachel, who survives a horrible accident that leaves the rest of her family dead. While that tragedy provides the backdrop for the action, what we're really reading is a racial coming-of-age tale as Rachel grapples with her mixed-race identity. Rachel's mother was Danish and her absentee father is African-American. After the accident, Rachel comes to live with her paternal grandmother and suddenly has to grapple with that troubling question, "What does it mean to be Black in America?"

Besides the fact that Rachel is a refreshingly original character, I also really appreciated the fact that...[read on]
Among the praise for Kinky Gazpacho:
Named one of the Best Books of 2008 from the Washington Post.

"Tharps has written a thought-provoking, answer-seeking consideration of race in the Western world that one can lie back and enjoy."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Tharps takes us on a bumpy intercontinental ride through ignorance and enlightenment."
--Essence Magazine

"...told with witty sarcasm akin to that of Gish Jen's narrator in Mona in the Promised Land."
Lori L. Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University, an author, freelance journalist and mom.

Learn more about Lori Tharps at her website and blog.

Writers Read: Lori L. Tharps.

--Marshal Zeringue