There’s No Place Like Home

Is there no place like home?

Literary critic Susan Stanford Friedman explores some of the contradictions in this quotation in her essay, “Bodies on the Move: A Poetics of Home and Diaspora”:

“There’s no place like home” means home is the best, the ideal, everything that elsewhere is not. Places elsewhere can never bring the same happiness as home. Alternatively inflected, the phrase turns into its opposite. “There’s no place like home” also means that no place, anywhere, is like home. Nowhere is there a place like home. Home is a never never land of dreams and desire. Home is utopia—a no place, a nowhere, an imaginary space longed for, always already lost in the very formation of the idea of home. (Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 23.2 [2004]: 192)

Two gripping 2013 novels give us very different perspectives on the contradictory meanings of home and belonging: Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go (Penguin) and NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (Little, Brown). I review these two novels in the May/June issue of Women’s Review of Books, available here.


Interview with Eliza Griswold in Boston Review

Poet-journalist Eliza Griswold has traveled to Afghanistan twice to collect Pashtun women’s oral poems, known as landays. I first came across these poems in an issue of Poetry last summer and was moved by their complexity and by the lives of the women who created them. In January 2014, I spoke with Eliza about her experience collecting and translating these landays, and about how everyday poems can mark sacred time. The interview is up at Boston Review.