Life in a Country Album: Poems
by Nathalie Handal Published by University of Pittsburgh Press
on October 15, 2019 Source: Purchased Genres: Poetry Pages:
115 Format: eBook
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From migrations to pop culture, loss to la dérive, Life in a Country Album is a soundtrack of the global cultural landscape—borders and citizenship, hybrid identities and home, freedom and pleasure. It’s a vast and moving look at the world, at what home means, and the ways we coexist in an increasingly divided world. These poems are about the dialects of the heart—those we are incapable of parting from, and those that are largely forgotten. Life in a Country Album is a vital book for our times. With this beautiful, epic collection, Nathalie Handal affirms herself as one of our most diverse and important contemporary poets.
I don’t read much poetry. It takes a savoring, a slow reading, that I’m not good at, that I should practice more. I am glad that I picked up Life in a Country Album, the poems are beautiful and touching and challenging. I read Handal’s mini-biography before I bought it, but was unprepared for how much French was in the first section. I have a little French left from my high school years, enough to get the gist of some of it, but not all. On the other hand, maybe that’s not important, maybe it’s the sounds and the flow and the contrast. For Handal, it seems the world is home. She’s connected to places and shares those, but she’s not tethered to any, and that’s a piece of what she’s exploring.
About Nathalie Handal
Nathalie Handel was raised in Latin America, France and the Middle East, and educated in Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Poet, playwright, nonfiction and literary travel writer, Claire Messud writes, she “illuminates the luxuriance and longing of deracination—a contemporary Orpheus.” Her recently published collections include Life in a Country Album (2019 US / 2020 UK), winner of the Palestine Book Award and a Foreword Indies Book Award finalist; the flash collection The Republics, lauded as “one of the most inventive books by one of today’s most diverse writers” and winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and the Arab American Book Award; the bestselling bilingual collection La estrella invisible / The Invisible Star; the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award.
Handal is the editor of the groundbreaking classic The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, winner of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award, and named one of the top 10 Feminist Books by The Guardian; and co-editor of the W.W. Norton landmark anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, both Academy of American Poets bestsellers. She has worked on over twenty theatrical productions either as a playwright, director or producer. Author of eight plays, her most recent works have been produced at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Bush Theatre and Westminster Abbey in London.
Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Nation, The Irish Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, on PBS and NPR, among others. In 2017, she was included as one of the 100 Outstanding Contributors to their Fields exhibition, inaugurated in the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, Pen International Croatia Fellow, Centro Andaluz de las Letras Fellow, Fondazione di Venezia Fellow, winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, among other honors. Her work has been translated into over 15 languages. She is a professor at Columbia University, and writes the literary travel columns, The City and the Writer for Words without Borders, and “Journeys” for Publishers Weekly Arabic.