Published by University of Pittsburgh Press on October 15, 2019
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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.