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A proud citizen of anywhere: Andrew Solomon’s quest to celebrate difference

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by Barbara Speed

Solomon sees [Far & Away] as his contribution to the debate around globalisation and what it means to commit your loyalty to the world, rather than a single nation. The book was published in the year when Theresa May announced, “If you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” It’s an idea that he rejects. “I’m a US citizen and a UK citizen and 53 years old, and I am also many other things.”

…When I ask Solomon what unites his interests as a writer, he settles on identity and ideas of difference. “My work looks at how liberating it is when we get away from the narrow definitions of what’s acceptable” he says – such as when a community fights to have deafness considered as a feature, not a defect; or when a family whose wonderful child is described by the world as “disabled” finds out what “ability” means.

His next book is about identity, too, and returns to the subject of families: this time, what are commonly referred to, rather negatively, as “non-nuclear” families….He says that there is a gap in our language for these kinds of families. We describe them only through their difference from the norm, or as a downgraded version of what is expected. They feature stepfathers, surrogate mothers, adopted parents.

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