“When I was about seven, my father told me about the Holocaust,” writes Andrew Solomon in his latest book, Far and Away, just published in paperback. “I knew that we were Jewish, and I gathered that if we’d been there at the time, it would have happened to us, too… I had one more question: ‘Why didn’t those Jews just leave when things got bad?’ ‘They had nowhere to go,’ he said. At that instant, I decided that I would always have somewhere to go.”
The award-winning author’s travel writings from 1991 to today are collected in the book, subtitled How Travel Can Change the World. In richly-textured, deeply-felt dispatches from around the world, he shares the transformational effects of simply being somewhere else.
One of those effects is perspective on your place in the world. “You can’t fit in with people by pretending to be just like they are,” he writes. “You fit in by engaging in a dialogue about your differences.”
“When I was arguing for internationalism in the book’s first publication, it didn’t seem that radical,” Solomon tells me, sounding sad as much as angry. “Now, that position, which seemed so undramatic and middle of the road, is beginning to feel like some last great gasp of idealism about how countries can interact with each other across great distances.”
“Part of my reason for wanting to engage with the world is very high-minded,” he adds. “But part of my reason was also because the legacy of the Holocaust weighs heavily on my shoulders. I wanted to feel like I had friends everyplace.”
(To read the complete article, please visit The Jewish Chronicle.)