From early on, Lynn Freed had imagined for herself an ideal life: a stranger in a strange place – someone just arrived, just about to leave, and always with somewhere to go home to. As a teenager on an exchange program from South Africa to the U.S., she made up fantastic reasons to escape high school in the suburbs and spend her time in New York City. But then back in New York a few years later – married now, and a graduate student – she found herself at home neither in the place nor in the marriage.
What she did find, in the end, was a true marriage between writing and travel, travel and identity, identity and freedom. Traversing decades and continents, and back again, The Romance of Elsewhere captures the essential dilemma of the expat: where is home? Taking on subjects as disparate as Disneyland, lovers, eco-tourism, shopping, serious illness, and the anomaly of writers who blossom into full power only in old age, these essays deliver “tart, witty, writing with a bite to it.”
“No one writes funnier, more acutely observant, frank, and intelligent personal essays than Lynn Freed. If her skeptical, sardonic voice amuses us with every line, it is largely because she is a grown-up in a culture of adolescence, who has done her psychological homework and taken the full measure of her experience, mistakes included. In this, her best nonfiction collection, you will come to know her narrator as one of the most nuanced and sophisticated characters in contemporary literature, and in the process make a new friend.”
—Phillip Lopate, author of A Mother’s Tale