All posts tagged: lot of Matar

The Books Briefing: The Literature of Exile

The Books Briefing: The Literature of Exile

This is an edition of the Books Briefing, our editors’ weekly guide to the best in books. Sign up for it here. Exile has always served as a powerful engine for fiction. To find yourself displaced, whether self-imposed or inflicted by a state, is to be simultaneously inside and outside; you gain intimate proximity to your new society while still standing at a distance from it, seeing things real insiders can’t. Isn’t this what writers do as well, when they enter the minds of their characters? The exile will always be at least slightly alien to her adopted culture. At the same time, her knowledge of that new place and its people is immersive; she is not a tourist and she can never really return to the person she was before she left home. This duality is also the novelist’s superpower, whether it’s Vladimir Nabokov or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie using their insider-outsider eyes to describe America in Lolita or Americanah, or Marjane Satrapi in Persepolis looking back at her youth in Iran. The Libyan British …