My yearning for family, always subtly present, reaches a crescendo on Christmas Day itself: one red candle in front of my annually diminishing array of Christmas cards, a shtonking great bird in the middle of the table, two Christmas crackers, two paper hats, one nervous looking husband and a glass of champagne. There will be tears.
And you don’t have to be a migrant for homesickness to strike. In Christchurch there are folk homesick for Christmases that took place just down the road in the Red Zone, where they used to live. There are parents longing for Christmases that took place right where they are now, before the kids all left. Then there are those with no homes and no families at all.
You are all welcome at The Homesick Hotel.
I check in with a full book bag (and if you haven’t yet got one of those, slap it on your Christmas list right now). Here’s what’s in my bag this year:
- Homesick – a book of linked short stories by Roshi Fernando, an award-winning Sri Lankan writer living in London. The namesake story introduces thirty four characters (most with Sri Lankan names) in the first eighteen pages. I need to read the rest of the book to unravel what is going on.
- The Goldfinch – I loved Donna Tartt‘s book The Secret History. This new novel is about an abandoned boy, a small painting and the art underworld – that should cheer me up!
- A House Somewhere – this is an old favourite – a collection of excellent essays on living abroad, written by great writers like Isabelle Allende and William Dalrymple.
- The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons, because it is about Art, Love, the Sixties and has a great title!
You can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave
It’s the same at The Homesick Hotel, but reading does help. A lot. So, what will you pack in your book bag this festive season?