“When you are a latecomer, outsider, immigrant, exile, there are fractures in your life that you can’t heal… I have a lot of respect for people that have stayed behind and have to deal with the wounds every day.” Elif Shafak
Posts tagged "review"
A thousand and one tales of a philosophical life

A thousand and one tales of a philosophical life

What can Hannah Arendt possibly teach us today? What was, and still is one hopes, her indelible imprint on the world, on our humanity, on what she so unwaveringly upheld as civilisation? And who was she? How did she become that singular multitude of perspectives, human facets, existential and conceptual spaces that can certainly lay...
The story of their history

The story of their history

The experience of lost places of belonging, of lost states of existence, together with the tenacity to defy and resist both loss and non-being, are deeply ingrained in the Russian language: thanks to Maxim Gorky, a term such as Бывшие люди, or ‘former people’, would come to acquire an eerily tangible corporeality, reality, and even...
Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

“All families develop a special language, words and references no outsider can understand. My family’s special language was Rotwelsch.” Thus begins Martin Puchner’s complex, compelling, if at times ambivalent exploration of a family and a language, or in point of fact of Language (and perhaps Family) capitalised. Of language as an institution, as a structure...
On ghosts and grace

On ghosts and grace

At the outset of our email chat about her new novel Ghosted, when I tell her how deeply I connected with her story, Jenn Ashworth accepts my heartfelt praise with the comment: “It’s all I want, really, when people read my books – just to feel like they’ve been acknowledged and offered something half-useful.” It’s...
Don't just think about it – how thoughts can be life's actions

Don’t just think about it – how thoughts can be life’s actions

The ancient Greeks, and the Romans in their wake, loved to think. They were enchanted, startled and astonished by the world around them, not only by its wondrousness, but also by its terrifying vastness, inscrutable perils, its dark mysteriousness and unknowingness. They found a sense of thrill and exaltation in the perusal of magnitude and...
A chance to tell his story

A chance to tell his story

A boy grows in rural northern Italy, in the midst of pastoral peace and bloody internecine war; little is known about his parents or his childhood, for all the many stories that would be told about him once he became a novus homo, poet, imperial confidant, the voice of a people and an empire –...
A symphony of life

A symphony of life

The daughter of a biologist, the wife of a biologist, and the mother of a biologist, it’s safe to say that Kathleen Dean Moore has an affinity for biology, environmentalism specifically, and comes across as a staunch activist concerning the deleterious effects of climate change in her most recent collection of essays Earth’s Wild Music:...
Bearing witness

Bearing witness

Before discussing the far-reaching scope of Kim Echlin’s Speak, Silence, and the enormity of the issues it illuminates, let’s zoom in close: amid a tryst in a hotel room at The Hague one evening, a female reporter covering the trial of a Bosnian war criminal prods her companion, the Dutch guard assigned to watch over...
Towards a poetics of wreckage

Towards a poetics of wreckage

There is something thrilling about a beautiful book – a book whose aesthetic, material presence, and the evocative momentum of its ideas and the words that embody them, seek to touch a reader’s every nerve, even that insubstantial vital centre we call our soul. Susan Stewart’s The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture...
Who makes history happen?

Who makes history happen?

Imagine a perfect (imperfect), remote and rural, Volkisch German landscape: replete with lush meadows and muddy, green pastures, well-ordered small villages abuzz with their perennial hierarchies of landed gentry, newly rich bourgeois grandees, the teachers and clergy, the pure and echt common Volk of farmers and housewives, the idle, reminiscing elderly, the burgeoning young. A...