[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Related Links

arts&sciences | Fall 2011

One-Way Tickets

By Corinne Steinbrenner

The novels of Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian writing in English in the United States, convey the embarrassment of foreigners struggling to adjust to a new culture. The poems of Alejandra Pizarnik, an Argentinian born to Jewish immigrant parents, express the loneliness of the outsider.

Professor of Latin American & Comparative Literature Alicia Borinsky meditates on the experiences of these writers and of other expatriate artists in her most recent book, One-Way Tickets: Writers and the Culture of Exile (Trinity University Press, 2011). The wide-ranging book draws examples from literature and popular culture to explore issues of language, identity, and belonging.

Borinsky begins with her personal story of displacement: The granddaughter of Russian and Polish immigrants, she grew up in Buenos Aires, and then became a refugee herself, fleeing to the United States in the late 1960s following a military takeover in Argentina.

In her final chapter, "We Are Everywhere," Borinsky notes the increased blurring of national and ethnic lines in the modern world—the proliferation of Spanish-speaking children in U.S. schools and of Muslim headscarves on European streets. This mixing of cultures, she argues, means that all of us—even those who've never left home—have experienced feelings of foreignness and so can relate to the stories of writers in exile.