Edited by André Naffis-Sahely The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature

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Anthologist André Naffis-Sahely says he provided a historical perspective to The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature. From Ancient Egypt to contemporary poetry, six continents, over a hundred contributors, drawn from twenty-four languages, Naffis-Sahely calls it a platform for writers who need wider exposure. It is unexplored world literature that is not part of any canon but that includes the classics; it is moving political poetry that is not merely political—as beautiful and moving as any poetry at all. It is lost souls restoring their sense of home.

An excerpt from The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature

Civilization begets exile; in fact, being banished from one’s home lies at the root of our earliest stories, whether human or divine [...] and my aim with this anthology was to produce a miniature history of humanity as seen through the prism of exile. In fact, if our earliest texts are any indication, the very concept of recorded history — and literature — appears to spring out of the necessity of exile, preserving in our minds what had been bloodily erased on earth.

Although Ovid taught us to see the “Exile” as a whiny, withered husk forever longing for the branch it was unhappily torn from, I wanted this anthology to showcase an alternative genealogy of misfits, rebels, heretics, contrarians, activists and revolutionaries. Exile, this anthology argues, can be defiant, like Emma Goldman aboard the USS Buford, or Leon Trotsky’s stirring “Letter to the Workers of the USSR”, written months before Stalin’s pickaxe found him in Mexico City; it can be horrifying, as the Polish legionnaires learnt while fighting to oppress a people they knew nothing about in Haiti; it can be depressing, like Giacomo Leopardi’s poem on Italy’s sorry state following the tumults of the Napoleonic Wars; however, it can speak of heroism, like the sacrifices made by poets such as Yannis Ritsos and Abdellatif Laâbi, all of whom spent long years in prison for their peaceful activism, or for their 'crimes of opinion'.

Excerpted fromThe Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature. Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved.