I had applied for a grant to go to Russia on a homestay, and the household I got assigned to was a family of penguins in Antarctica. "But penguins don't even have a language!" I protested. In fact, those penguins did have a language, with two branches, one epic-narrative and one lyric-folkloric. I was jerked awake by the pounding of my own heart.
Monday, May 10, 2010
from The Possessed, about a recurring nightmare that began to plague Elif Batuman during a stressful homestay in Samarkand: