From migrations to pop culture, loss to la dérive, Life in a Country Album is a soundtrack of the global cultural landscape—borders and citizenship, hybrid identities and home, freedom and pleasure. It’s a vast and moving look at the world, at what home means, and the ways we coexist in an increasingly divided world. These poems are about the dialects of the heart—those we are incapable of parting from, and those that are largely forgotten. Life in a Country Album is a vital book for our times. With this beautiful, epic collection, Nathalie Handal affirms herself as one of our most diverse and important contemporary poets.
The layers of discovery in this collection are a feast of all flavors, from all corners of the world, that teach me how we must reinvent our perceptions of nation and country as identifiers and how each of us presents in such an interconnected world.
In odes to the Francophone diaspora and Mediterranean crisis or in vibrant celebration of American complexity, Nathalie Handal illuminates the luxuriance and longing of deracination. A contemporary Orpheus, she hymns our most urgent and ineffable truths; her poems sing.
I love this book. It’s simply poetry that doesn’t quit moving. It tells a story. It’s water, it shimmers.
Life in a Country Album reminds me of the irresistible spare stylization of French New Wave cinema. I love how the desire and longing running through these poems reaches me via the collections many voices and cityscapes, and—most poignantly—via the borders between bodies, nations and hearts. Absolutely gorgeous.
Life in a Country Album is a deeply ethical offering to all whose lives are crossed by borders, written with steady, uncompromising vision in the language of the many paths Handal has walked in search of belonging.
Nathalie Handal was raised in Latin America, France and the Middle East, and educated in Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Her recent poetry books include the flash collection The Republics, winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing, and the Arab American Book Award; critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. She is the author of eight plays, editor of two anthologies, and her poetry, essays and creative nonfiction have appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Nation, The Irish Times, among others. Handal is the recipient of awards from The Lannan Foundation, Centro Andaluz de las Letras, Fondazione di Venezia, Emily Harvey Foundation, among others. Her work brings her to audiences globally. She is a professor at Columbia University, and writes the literary travel column “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders magazine.