Hispanic humor focus of new book by Goshen College professor

Review by Judith Davis, GC professor emerita of French and humanities

GOSHEN, Ind. - Laughing as you learn another language? It’s possible, reading “101 Spanish Riddles,” a new book by Rafael Falcón, professor of Spanish at Goshen College, based on his 20-year collection of jokes and riddles from Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Guatemala.

As the book’s foreword makes clear, riddles have served as a rich source of entertainment in the Spanish-speaking world for centuries and, despite today’s technologically sophisticated world, they are still used to “trick, amuse, engage and mislead participants.”

Each riddle and its answer appear in Spanish, accompanied by an English translation and cultural notes explaining an answer which might not be clear to a non-Hispanic reader. There also are dialogues or narratives that show how the language in the riddle is used in everyday Spanish. Written in Spanish, these short pieces encourage further exploration of the subject. Readers can check their interpretations against translationsin the back of the book.

“101 Spanish Riddles” is published in paperback by McGraw-Hill. The book is Falcón’s second work on Hispanic culture; his first, “Salsa: A Taste of Hispanic Culture” (1998, Greenwood Press), presents vivid vignettes of life in Spanish-speaking areas. “Salsa” is written in English, providing a spicy introduction to Hispanic ways and customs. Both books are available through the Goshen College bookstore, Borders, Waldenbooks and Amazon.com.

Falcón has taught Spanish language, literature and culture at Goshen College for 23 years. He has published two other books - one on Puerto Rican emigration to New York as it appears in the Puerto Rican novel and short story; the second on the importance of African blacks in the stories of four Puerto Rican writers. Falcón has authored numerous articles on the literature of the Caribbean and has lectured widely on Hispanic subjects. He currently is at work on a memoir titled, “Mi Gente” (my people).

 

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