life from elsewhere review

‘Life from Elsewhere’ is a compilation of essays, some formal, some personal, written by a huge variety of authors from around the world. Published by Pushkin Press, the essays cover a number of concerns, such as migration, translation, and our increasingly globalised world.

My main problem with the book is this: it really, really needs to be longer. There were so many topics covered – but only one essay for each! For me, there needed to be more structure, which would have allowed differing opinions to be more clearly stated. I think this would have greatly added to the reader’s experience, and really make them think.

However, this definitely didn’t detract from the quality of the writing, which absolutely blew me away. This really solidified for me that I have to read more translated fiction, because I’m missing out on so much! The essays were universally eloquent, moving, and thought-provoking. Even when I didn’t agree with the author, I always respected their opinion, and found myself intrigued to learn more about their particular topic.

One of the things I liked most about the book was that at the end, all of the authors and biographers had blurbs written about them, including their previous publications. As I hadn’t heard of any of these authors, I found this invaluable. The three authors who I will definitely be reading more of are Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Hanna Krall, and Andrey Kurkov. My goodness, they’re good. And translated into English! I really, really need to start ordering some translations, and soon.

‘Life from Elsewhere’ will be published 21 June 2016.

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