cover of book
 

Landscapes of a Distant Mother
by Kenneth J. SAID
translated by Kenneth J. Northcott
University of Chicago Press, 2004
Cloth: 978-0-226-73376-0
Library of Congress Classification PT2679.A3355L3613 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 831.914

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Your smile.
There wasn't one.
You never smiled.

Born in Tehran but living in Germany, the eminent writer SAID has suffered two forms of exile. Forced to leave Iran for political reasons, he was also separated from his mother shortly after his birth when his parents divorced. At the age of forty-three, however, SAID received word that his mother was traveling abroad and wanted to see him. Landscapes of a Distant Mother is the account of their wrenching reunion. A memoir of longing and loss, the book offers a haunting portrait of a son's broken relationship with his mother and the Islamic dictatorship that shadows both their lives.

Landscapes of a Distant Mother gives English-speaking readers an introduction to one of Europe's most important immigrant writers. Unsentimental and spare, the book chronicles the discomfiting sensation of viewing one's mother as a stranger and all the psychological implications of their mutual disappointment. SAID's distance from his mother—whom he describes almost clinically, with her "particular way of speaking, the style laced with religious formulas, inclined to emotionalism, self-pity and expletives"—becomes a measure of the alienation he feels from everything around him. His book gives voice to the full meaning of modern exile—its political force, profound sadness, and perpetual yearning.

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