So much of Ruth Behar’s life story resonates with me. My mother is Cuban, and to paraphrase Winston Churchill, I may be half Cuban and half American, but there are so many times I feel completely Cuban. When I finally went to Cuba last fall, it was like returning to a place to which I had never been. I am the Cubana that Ruth Behar describes in her fascinating new memoir, “Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys,’’ one that is part of an “intensely diasporic people.”
Behar was born in Cuba in 1957 and left the island as a small child. By any measure she is an American success story. With a PhD from Princeton University, Behar is a self-described anthropologist who “specializes in homesickness.” She’s also a MacArthur grantee and a chaired professor at the University of Michigan who has been recognized for her groundbreaking work in Spain and Mexico. Like me, she’s the offspring of the union of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish families.