The passports carried by Pico Iyer and Andrew Solomon are surely well-worn, the pages full of entry and exit stamps. Between them, these two writers have logged a mind-boggling number of miles and recounted their journeys in numerous books and articles. Solomon’s most recent work is the acclaimed Far and Away: How Travel Can Change the World, a prodigious, elegantly written, and insightful collection of dispatches from Russia, China, Libya, and Mongolia, among other places. Travel, Solomon writes, makes us humble and allows us to not only see differences in others without fear, but to also appreciate those differences. Andrew Solomon was working in Rome when he spoke with the Santa Barbara Independent.
In Far and Away you wrote that we find our boundaries both through encounters with otherness and through being that otherness.
I wrote that in the Afterword in response to the shifting politics I saw happening. It’s unbelievably dangerous to assume that everyone who is different from you is the enemy and everyone who is like you is your friend. The problem with building a fortress is that it can become a prison for the people inside as much as a defense against the people outside.
(To read the complete interview, please visit the Santa Barbara Independent.)