Literature of Exile: Haiti’s Jean Métellus and René Depestre

“I am a Haitian exile who has never left Haiti, and Haiti has never left me. For many years, my imagination has linked me to my native land. Poems, novels, theater–these have always been the media allowing me to recreate an intimate relationship with the Haitian land. Imagination and lyricism cannot be silent during the … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Haiti’s Jean Métellus and René Depestre

Literature of Exile: The Ashour/Barghouti Family

"Silence said:truth needs no eloquence.After the death of the horseman,the homeward-bound horsesays everythingwithout saying anything." • 'Silence' translated by Radwa Ashour from Midnight and Other Poems, by Mourid Barghouti Although exile is often a family experience it's rare that it produces a family of acclaimed writers. And yet we have the remarkable Ashour/Barghouti family: Mourid … Continue reading Literature of Exile: The Ashour/Barghouti Family

Literature of Exile: Nâzım Hikmet and Human Landscapes from My Country

Starting where so many journeys have begun or ended, at the iconic Haydarpaşa railway station on Istanbul’s waterfront, Nâzım Hikmet’s Human Landscapes from My Country paints a kaleidoscopic portrait of Turkey in the WWII era. Following first the 3:45 p.m. train with its motley cast of third-class passengers and then the 7 p.m. express, carrying … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Nâzım Hikmet and Human Landscapes from My Country

Literature of Exile: Poetry (part 1)

Many of the earliest poems known, from the ancient world, deplore the pain of exile. Whether it is the highly stylized verse of the Arab world, or the oral recitation of Western Saharan, exiles and refugees from all parts of the world have shared their experiences of grief, loss and homesickness through poetry. With so … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Poetry (part 1)

Literature of Exile: The Armenian Genocide

One of the tragedies of the Armenian genocide is that there are still those who deny it happened. Beginning in 1914, the Ottoman authorities in Anatolia deported and killed over a million and a half ethnic Armenians. Although Turkey continues to deny it, the genocide against the Armenians is now generally recognized worldwide. Twenty-nine countries … Continue reading Literature of Exile: The Armenian Genocide

Literature of Exile: Viet Thanh Nguyen and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience

Unlike some of the other exiles mentioned on this blog, the story of the Vietnamese refugees is generally well- known in the United States, since the US was so directly involved in creating the crisis. After the fall of Saigon, over 130,000 Vietnamese with ties to the South Vietnamese government or the United States, escaped … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Viet Thanh Nguyen and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience

Literature of Exile: Clemantine Wamariya and exile as performance

"This is from your family in Rwanda", Oprah said, handing me a tan envelope. She looked solemn, confident in her purpose. "From your father and your mother and your sisters and your brother". I opened the envelope and pulled out a sheet of blue paper. Then Oprah put her hand on mine to stop me … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Clemantine Wamariya and exile as performance

Literature of Exile: Hamid Ismailov and Exile as Folktale

“It is boundlessly difficult to be a stranger. Your usual ways of behaving bear no fruit: if your habits are not fit for purpose, you might as well be a wheel off its axle, alone over and over again.” “I am a stranger at home, and I am nobody abroad.” A common trope in folklore … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Hamid Ismailov and Exile as Folktale

Literature of Exile: Dina Nayeri

Sometimes all that’s left of value in an exile’s life is his identity. Please stop asking people to rub out their face as tribute. Many refugees express profound thankfulness and love for their adopted homeland, yet they often feel burdened with the obligation to embrace their new country and reject the old completely. Criticism of … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Dina Nayeri

Literature of Exile: Şavkar Altınel

Today I am handing over guest editor duties to Turkish author Kaya Genc. Thank you Kaya for this thoughtful piece! Exile wasn’t a choice for Turkish dissidents of the twentieth century. It was a necessity. Turkish literature’s luminaries, from the poet Nâzım Hikmet to the novelist Halide Edip Adıvar, lived abroad because autocrats who ruled … Continue reading Literature of Exile: Şavkar Altınel