This is a book about silences. And land. Renowned anthropologist and film-maker Hugh Brody weaves a dazzling tapestry of personal memory and distant landscapes: childhood in England in the shadow of the Second World War, the Derbyshire hills, a kibbutz in Israel and the deep Canadian Arctic.
Growing up on the outskirts of Sheffield, Hugh Brody ate roast beef and Yorkshire pudding but was always given to understand that the real, the perfect food came from his mother’s home, Vienna. He attended Hebrew classes three times each week but was sent off to a Church of England boarding school. Conflicted and bewildered, he sought places to which he could escape – but everywhere he discovered deep and troubling silences.
He takes us on his first journeys to the Arctic, a world so far removed from anything he had known as to be a chance to learn, all over again, what it can mean to be alive. As he reveals, the realities of the far north were a joy, but even there he found abuses of the people and the land – and voices that were deeply silenced by the forces of colonialism. In these landscapes, human well-being appears to be both possible and impossible.
Yet in memory, in the land, in the defiance of silence, Hugh Brody sees a profound humanity – as well as hope.