Writers from around the globe weigh in on the theme of home in this wide-ranging anthology from former Granta editor Freeman.
Home “can be one place, or it can be many,” Freeman writes in the introduction to this third issue of his anthology series. Indeed, many of the finest selections here tell tales of migration, some voluntary and some not. In Gregory Pardlo’s wryly observed “Marine Boy,” the author remembers himself at 18, when he leaves Willingboro, New Jersey—“this town was beginning to harden around me like a final destination”—for boot camp in South Carolina. A conservative Muslim woman’s yearslong fascination with a famous writer spans continents in Leila Aboulela’s masterful short story, “Pages of Fruit.” Emily Raboteau paints a complicated, empathetic portrait of her Uganda-born mother-in-law, now living in Rosedale, Queens, in “The Curse.” And in his poignant and timely essay, “Hope and Home,” Rabih Alameddine tells of interviewing Syrian refugees while visiting his mother in Beirut. While many of these tales are about leaving one place for another, others focus on hometown life. Kerri Arsenault contrasts the storybook version of Maine—“red lobsters, rocky beaches”—with the reality of life in the blue-collar town of her youth; after her father retires from the paper mill there, he receives a toolbox, watch, “and asbestosis of the lungs.” And in “Fishermen Always Eat Fish Eyes First,” Xiaolu Guo recounts growing up under the care of her loving grandmother and mean-spirited grandfather in a fishing village by the East China Sea. Other highlights include essays by Edwidge Danticat and Nir Baram, fiction from Barry Lopez and Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, and the poetry of Danez Smith, Katie Ford, and others.
A superb anthology: eclectic and thought-provoking.