Freeman’s Arrival is about that electrifying moment we reach somewhere

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I just ordered a copy of Freeman’s Arrival, a new themed collection of stories that is said to be like a new kind of Granta. But not.

My reason, I have to confess, was hearing Aleksander Hemon talk about the story he contributed to the anthology. Having recently read and thrilled to Mr Hemon’s ‘Islands’ , ‘The Noble Truths of Suffering’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’, I wanted to read the newest offering from the writer once called the “new Nabokov”.

Yes, Sasha Hemon’s story is remarkable for anyone who likes words. You have to be awed by the grim determination he showed in excising Bosnian from his life (and mind) after hearing about the Serb prison camps at Omarska and Trnopolje, where Bosnian Muslims were starved, tortured and executed. In a self-amputation of sorts, he stopped writing in the Bosnian language. And taught himself English.

Apparently, Mr Hemon’s new story for Freeman’s Arrival is about his Bosnian parents’ sense of displacement in and adjustment to Canada.

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A new Hemon story may be a good reason but not the only one to be interested in Freeman’s Arrival. It’s a collection that has been put together by John Freeman, formerly a Granta editor. It seems particularly prescient to choose arrival as a theme at a time of great movement across the world. Syria and Eritrea are disgorging people. On Monday, November 2, UNHCR said that almost as many migrants reached Europe by sea in October as in the whole of 2014. A total of 218,394 people arrived; just over half of them were Syrian.

The anthology’s publisher, Grove Press, describes the theme as follows: “We live today in constant motion, traveling distances rapidly, small ones daily, arriving in new states… (here’s) the best new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about that electrifying moment when we arrive.”

Mr Freeman himself argues that the collection will bring about a different sort of journey for the reader: “stories and essays, even the right kind of poem, will take us somewhere else, put us down somewhere new.”

And Malcolm Forbes reviews it as follows: “the focus is on the euphoria, or the anticlimax, of arriving somewhere — either reaching a destination or achieving a goal.”

Originally published at on November 4, 2015.

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