Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault, has an interesting article in The Atlantic called Reading Faust in Korean. It got me thinking about something a writing friend often says. She believes I have a distinct advantage over her since I grew up in America and now have lived so long here in Botswana. She believes I somehow have better insight having my feet in two countries. She thinks my range of stories might be wider because of this. I always think it leaves me homeless with no real, authentic place from where I can write as I drift in an in-between place. Maybe this is why in so much of my writing I must force setting in or there will be none. My stories would hover in the no man's land where their writer often lives.
Michaels asks : "Do we belong to the place where we are born, or to the place where we are buried?" In many ways I know I'll never truly belong to Botswana, but in my heart I know I no longer feel connected to America. She ends by saying: “When the dead cannot be laid to rest in ground that remembers them, sometimes literature is the only grave we have. And that grave is one way a migrant claims a place in his adopted country.” I find this very hopeful. I think now since the bulk of my writing lives only in Botswana , in Southern Africa, by default I am given a home in Botswana. What about when my writing moves to a larger audience? Where will my home be then? I hope my writing will put down stakes here in the land that I chose, not where I was born, because in the end isn't that more important? If my writing helps me to do that then it's a wonderful thing.