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Exile itself can be a country to explore, wrote the exiled South African essayist Breyten Breytenbach. More than forty writers prove his point in Altogether Elsewhere, an anthology of diverse reflections by notable literary exiles. Classic and contemporary writers from Europe, the United States, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean deepen our understanding of exile, meditating on the tension between lost and found languages, between fortifying memory and debilitating nostalgia, between the joys of freedom and the sense of entrapment within that freedom. Contributors include Mary Antin, Austin Clarke, Janet Frame, Czeslaw Milosz, Eskia Mphahlele, Petrarch, Darryl Pinckney, and Marina Tsvetaeva, among others. Taken together, these essays, letters, journals, and memoirs of writers displaced by either choice or circumstance present a rich, ever expanding portrait of exile literature, one that includes the resilience of the political exile, the adventurousness of the voluntary expatriate, the ingenious adaptability of the emigre, and the perpetual dissatisfaction of the nomad. Altogether Elsewhere acknowledges the fear and wariness of expatriates as well as the sardonic side of displacement once suggested by Joseph Brodsky, who has termed the exiles life a tragicomedy where the democracy into which he has arrived provides him with physical safety but renders him socially insignificant. Yet this anthology also embodies Gertrude Steins reassuring reminder that writers have to have two countries, the one where they belong and the one in which they live really.
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