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This Gay Journalist’s Epic Book Shows How Travel Can Change Us All

by Aaron Hicklin

In the introduction to Far & Away, a collection of his journalism, Andrew Solomon recalls a childhood conversation with his father in which the subject turns to the Nazis and the Holocaust. Solomon, who was 7 at the time, was horrified. Why didn’t the Jews of Europe leave when things got bad? “They had nowhere to go,” his father replied. It was a crystallizing moment. From that day forward, Solomon understood two things very clearly: Absolute safety was an illusion, and he would make sure he always had somewhere to go. “I would never suppose that just because things had always been fine, they would continue to be fine,” he writes. “I would leave before the walls closed around the ghetto, before the train tracks were completed, before the borders were sealed.”

Solomon wrote that in late 2015, when the question of how to respond in the face of tyranny was merely a hypothetical exercise. But since November 8 of last year, it has seemed a lot less hypothetical. “I’ve talked to German Jews who describe thinking, But we’re so well incorporated in this society it couldn’t happen here,” he told me in February, as we sat in the outlandish splendor of New York’s Russian Tea Room drinking Moscow Mules. “I just feel the liability is bigger than a lot of people let on, and I think there’s a responsibility to do everything you can to prevent the horror.”

(To read the full interview, please visit Out.)