Andrew Solomon: not afraid to go there


Andrew Solomon’s “Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity” seems like a book we might like.

Solomon cuts to the heart of the many possible events and conditions that throw a family into chaos and the category of “other,” and how that family then tries, or does not try, to reconcile their reality.

Reviewing the book for The New Yorker, Nathan Heller writes:

Solomon is in many ways the perfect writer for the subject—nuanced, thorough, humane, and a gifted stylist—and, trying to get to the root of this conflict, he pushes horizontal identity as far as it will go. He includes chapters not only on deafness and dwarfism but on Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disability, early genius, conception through rape, criminal behavior, and transgender life. He talks with more than three hundred families; interviews those around them; and reads extensively about the conditions they face. When bonds within families begin to fray, he seeks to understand what went wrong.

May there always be someone fearless enough to do this sort of thing.

Nikita Schoen is an intern at The Rumpus, and a Writing & Literature student at California College of the Arts. She lives in San Francisco. More from this author →