Off the eastern coast of Bermuda in Castle Harbour sits a jagged, lush island by the name of Nonsuch. Spanning just over 16 acres, Nonsuch is one of Bermuda’s most isolated islands, and it houses several endangered and Lazarus species (those that were once thought to be extinct). Among the dense forests filled with lizards, insects, and birds, ornithologist Jeremy Madeiros spends most of his days living in a repurposed quarantine hospital, making him the island’s sole human inhabitant.
Yet, it was a record of a journey, with endless possibilities of discovery within an ephemeral line. Pinning this photo to the wall, I began to plan a journey of my own that would trail a path through Britain’s landscapes. Many long-distance routes traverse the land, running from coast to coast and ending at the sea. Digging an old map of Britain out of the attic, I drew a different line, one without a destination, linking different footpaths until they formed a loop of almost 5,000 miles around the edges of the island.
Six weeks later I rounded a corner and collapsed on to a muddy verge. It was a frosty October afternoon: day one. Months lay ahead of me.
As always, Lahiri writes with subtlety and delicacy. There is movement in her prose that reflects the subtle movement in her narrator's life. Whereabouts is the literary equivalent of slow cooking; it demands patience. Shifts between shadow and light, emptiness and fulfillment, irritation and enjoyment, and stasis and change carry us along as this hampered woman gradually resolves to "push past the barrier" that has long impeded her way in the world. As for Lahiri, she is a writer who obviously relishes pushing past barriers, including those she herself erects.
But rather than feeling confined by whatever real-life elements informed its creation, it exists in a far more indeterminate, diffuse dimension, at times taking on an almost fairytale quality. In his three novels, Sahota has demonstrated an ambitious need to adapt the specific and concrete to something less easy to pin down, complete with all the gaps and ruptures that life provides and art makes, even for a moment, tangible.
Mol offers whataboutism at its finest, most feminist potency, asking “What if we were to stop celebrating ‘the human’s’ cognitive reflections about the world, and take our cues instead from human metabolic engagements with the world? Or, to put it differently: What if our theoretical repertoires were to take inspiration not from thinking but from eating?”