‘Of Women and Salt’ by Gabriela Garcia is the voice that immigrants and nationals needed to listen to. – Inkish Kingdoms
This novel is a project closed home for Garcia. Born in the States to a Cuban mother and a Mexican father, Gabriela knew from her parents the immigration situation and struggles that many people go through to reach the land of the “free.”
‘Of Women and Salt’ narrates the story of a whole family of Cuban descent. The novel starts in the old cigar factories in Cuba to the present day when immigration has become a living nightmare for many people looking for the American dream or simply a better life. People escaping political persecution and violence in their native lands embark on the tragic and dangerous road for freedom to keep living in constant fear of deportation. The tenacious voices of mothers, grandmothers, cousins, and daughters share how they have given up a lot for the sake of their families. (Full summary here)
Every time I read a book from Latinx authors, I can not help remembering the infamous case of ‘American Dirt’ and the backlash it got for appropriating a story that was not for her to tell. However, while reading ‘Of Women and Salt,’ I knew Gabriela was telling the precise story with the correct representation. I can see many Latin people relating to her story.
Colonization in Latin America is a topic that not many remember nor have cover in previous literary work, and Garcia lightly illustrates the crimes and horrors of colonization in Cuba. This historical moment saddens me as Cuba fought for its freedom to fall into a different regimen that, with lies, promised a free and better country. ‘Of Women and Salt’ voices the reality of many Cuban families through time. The novel shares how many Cuban families hide their valuables in walls to avoid the government from stealing them, how the exit for many women is to marry or hope for a tourist to fall for them and take them out of Cuba.
Gabriela explores through her characters themes of domestic violence and the liberation of women through any means. Gabriela exposes how the privileged immigrants separate themselves from the rest of the community. Most importantly, ‘Of Women and Salt’ explores family separation due to the government “detention centers.” Children left behind detention centers dehumanize immigrants by threatening them as aliens. These centers do not exist to help people but to discard immigrants out of their borders. The novel denounces a bigger problem, a human problem of imaginary limits.
‘Of Women and Salt’ is a tour de force. A debut novel that blandly puts in jeopardy what many think to be the heroic labor of mass deportation to safeguard the comfort of the privilege.
This novel was easy to read and heart-warming, with moments of pure horror and distaste towards the governments and their dehumanizing programs. Although the multiple stories format confused me a bit while listening to the audiobook, the narrator, Frankie Corzo, did an incredible job by lightly modifying her tone of voice. ‘Of Women and Salt‘ is a book worth reading and recommending. Please do not forget to join our Instagram Book Club!
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