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work by Maria Lai
History & Politics, Literature

The Heart of a Stranger

Centro Primo Levi Readings

September 12, 2019
7:00 pm

Presented in collaboration with Centro Primo Levi.

The Heart of a Stranger
An Anthology of Exile Literature

(2020, Pushkin Press)

Edited by André Naffis-Sahely

The editor in conversation with:
Jenny Xie (NYU, Graywolf poet)
Aaron Robertson (Lit Hub Editor and translator of Ethiopian memoirist Martha Nasibù)
Jonathan Galassi (poet and translator, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Heart of a Stranger charts the history of our world’s civilizations through the prism of exile, taking the reader from Ancient Egypt to the present day through three hundred pages of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The anthology spans six continents and twenty-four languages and is divided into six sections, which have been arranged thematically and chronologically. 

Highlights include the wisdom of the 5th century Desert Fathers and Mothers, the Siculo-Arabic poetry of Ibn Hamdis, Moses ibn Ezra, an excerpt from Dante’s Paradise, the Byzantine poet Michael Marullus, the Swahili Song of Liyongo, The Flight of the Irish Earls, Madame de Staël’s reflections after leaving Napoleon’s Paris, Emma Goldman’s travails in the wake of the First Red Scare, and the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani’s ode to the lost world of Andalusia, concluding with a selection of work by more contemporary exiles, like the Uyghur poet Ahmetjan Osman, the Moroccan writer Abdellatif Laâbi, our old friend Alessandro Spina, and the Italo-Eritrean fabulist Ribka Sibhatu. 

Languages include: Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Irish Gaelic, Kurdish, Latin, Old English, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tamazight, Turkish, Uyghur, Vietnamese and Yiddish. There are 90 contributions, with 60 translations.