Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change

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From the winner of the National Book Award and the National Books Critics’ Circle Award—and one of the most original thinkers of our time—“Andrew Solomon’s magisterial Far and Away collects a quarter-century of soul-shaking essays” (Vanity Fair).

Far and Away chronicles Andrew Solomon’s writings about places undergoing seismic shifts—political, cultural, and spiritual. From his stint on the barricades in Moscow in 1991, when he joined artists in resisting the coup whose failure ended the Soviet Union, his 2002 account of the rebirth of culture in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, his insightful appraisal of a Myanmar seeped in contradictions as it slowly, fitfully pushes toward freedom, and many other stories of profound upheaval, this book provides a unique window onto the very idea of social change. With his signature brilliance and compassion, Solomon demonstrates both how history is altered by individuals, and how personal identities are altered when governments alter.

A journalist and essayist of remarkable perception and prescience, Solomon captures the essence of these cultures. Ranging across seven continents and twenty-five years, these “meaty dispatches…are brilliant geopolitical travelogues that also comprise a very personal and reflective resume of the National Book Award winner’s globe-trotting adventures” (Elle). Far and Away takes a magnificent journey into the heart of extraordinarily diverse experiences: “You will not only know the world better after having seen it through Solomon’s eyes, you will also care about it more” (Elizabeth Gilbert).
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From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.

All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Apr 19, 2016
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Pages
592
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ISBN
9781476795065
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / Essays
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"Transcendently disobedient, the most existence-affirming and iconoclastic defense a writer could mount against her own extinction." --Heidi Julavits, New York Times Book Review

In July 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given "two or three years" to live. She didn't know how to react. All responses felt scripted, as if she were acting out her part. To find the response that felt wholly her own, she had to face the clichés and try to write about it. And there was another story to write, one she had not yet told: that of being taken in at age fifteen by the author Doris Lessing, and the subsequent fifty years of their complex relationship.

In the pages of the London Review of Books, to which Diski contributed for the last quarter century, she unraveled her history with Lessing: the fairy-tale rescue as a teenager, the difficulties of being absorbed into an unfamiliar family, the modeling of a literary life. Swooping from one memory to the next--alighting on the hysterical battlefield of her parental home, her expulsion from school, the drug-taking twenty-something in and out of psychiatric hospitals--and telling all through the lens of living with terminal cancer, through what she knows will be her final months, Diski paints a portrait of two extraordinary writers--Lessing and herself.

From a wholly original thinker comes a book like no other: a cerebral, witty, dazzlingly candid masterpiece about an uneasy relationship; about memory and writing, ingratitude and anger; about living with illness and facing death.
From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.

All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.
WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION 

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
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