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How Travel Makes You Modest

Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change (Chatto, August 2016)

Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change (Chatto & Windus, £14.99)

by Caroline Moorehead

What most of us remember from our early childhoods are fleeting images that leave faint trails, later to be recaptured by smells or sounds. For Andrew Solomon, there was one extremely vivid early memory, and it formed him. He was in a car, aged about seven, when his Jewish father told him about the Holocaust. The small boy gradually made sense of it, then two thoughts came to him: he decided that he would never allow himself to be “helpless, dependent or credulous”; and that, since the Jews had not escaped their persecutors in time, he would seek safety in leaving “before the borders were closed”. Since some Jews had been saved by non-Jewish friends, he would also make it his business to have “broad affections”.

So begins the introduction to Far & Away, a collection of Solomon’s articles, written during almost 30 years of wandering – he has visited 83 of the world’s 196 countries – looking, listening, trying to understand… That is what Solomon does: he looks for meaning.

…He is an engaging guide – keen-eyed, self-reflective, shrewd, humane – and these articles have a pleasing passion…. Solomon is an assiduous collector of facts and an often humorous stylist.

(To read the full review, please visit The Guardian.)