“They broke the mould when they made Rebecca Solnit.”
The Irish Times
Chairperson: John Hutchinson
Writer, activist and cultural historian Rebecca Solnit is one of America’s most provocative and original thinkers. Since Wanderlust, her groundbreaking history of walking, she has produced a succession of extraordinary books covering everything from art, landscape and memory to ecology and politics, frequently all at the same time. Her biography of the great Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge won her a Guggenheim, a Lannan Literary Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, while last year an unexpected tribute to her work came from Beyoncé, who named her baby Blue Ivy after a line in Solnit’s poem ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost.’
Thanks to “some fancy detective work” by her uncle, who tracked down her mother’s Irish roots, Solnit became an Irish citizen in 1986, and A Book of Migrations described her travels here, blending travelogue with typically brilliant meditations on metaphor, exile and nomadism. Her latest book, The Faraway Nearby, is a characteristically dazzling memoir that winds a mesmerising thread of narrative about the unexpected gift of apricots that Solnit was bequeathed by her mother; a narrative that takes us from the basin of the Grand Canyon to a library of water in Iceland, via Mary Shelley and the Marquis de Sade.