Andrew Solomon’s great gift is his empathy, which evolved, he writes, through his experiences with marginalization: first because he was dyslexic, later as he confronted his homosexuality, and then as he emerged from catastrophic depression. His two previous books about psychology won him both awards and a substantial readership. His new collection of reporting, Far & Away: Reporting From the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years, marks a departure: Here, Solomon is occupied less with individual experience, and engages instead with adventure, criticism, and politics.
Far & Away, a collection of reported essays drawn largely from Solomon’s work as a writer for American magazines, is filled with his typically clear writing and deep research, but now his attention is more pointedly external. Included are articles about a controversy over an exhibit of Chinese art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and reporting about artists and dissidents in Afghanistan, Libya, Myanmar, and Brazil. In a similar way that writing allowed Solomon to explore his own struggles, travel compelled him to explore and interact with the world far beyond his areas of comfort. He calls travel a “moral imperative,” and “an exercise partly in broadening yourself and partly in defining your limits.”
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