When you’ve lived away from home for a long time, home can be anywhere. If you move around a lot, the places of transit themselves, airports and train stations, can feel the most homelike of all. People may easily mistake you as from ‘coming from’ one place, when you ‘actually come from’ another. You move so much that almost no-one remembers your current address, and you might not be there anyway if someone (or a letter) turns up. You become hard to track down. You become part of the tribe of travellers, or people between cultures:
The narrator of Recitation is one of the Karakorum. Her story is translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith, who also translated Han Kang’s The Vegetarian. The author, Bae Suah, has also translated Kafka, Erpenbeck and Sebald into Korean. Coming from a divided country, staying in the once-divided city of Berlin, in her writing the borders are porous between present reality, memory and dreamscape. The shamans are at work:
The protagonists are always on the move, distant from both their point of origin and the point they have arrived at:
As someone who gets tired of being asked where I’m from, and prefers to answer “what do you mean?”, I enjoyed this perspective very much. I hope you do too.