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The Small Heart of Things

Being at Home in a Beckoning World

Julian Hoffman


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In The Small Heart of Things, Julian Hoffman intimately examines the myriad ways in which connections to the natural world can be deepened through an equality of perception, whether it's a caterpillar carrying its house of leaves, transhumant shepherds ranging high mountain pastures, a quail taking cover on an empty steppe, or a Turkmen family emigrating from Afghanistan to Istanbul. The narrative spans the common--and often contested--ground that supports human and natural communities alike, seeking the unsung stories that sustain us.

Guided by the belief of Rainer Maria Rilke that "everything beckons us to perceive it," Hoffman explores the area around the Prespa Lakes, the first transboundary park in the Balkans, shared by Greece, Albania, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From there he travels widely to regions rarely written about, exploring the idea that home is wherever we happen to be if we accord that place our close and patient attention.

The Small Heart of Things is a book about looking and listening. It incorporates travel and natural history writing that interweaves human stories with those of wild creatures. Distinguished by Hoffman's belief that through awareness, curiosity, and openness we have the potential to forge abiding relationships with a range of places, it illuminates how these many connections can teach us to be at home in the world.

University of Georgia Press, 9780820345567, 154pp.

Publication Date: October 15, 2013

About the Author

JULIAN HOFFMAN was born in England and grew up in Canada. In 2000, he and his partner, Julia, moved to the Prespa Lakes in northern Greece where, after some years as market gardeners, they now monitor birds in sensitive upland areas where wind farms have been built or proposed. His essay Faith in a Forgotten Place, which is taken from the manuscript of "The Small Heart of Things," won the 2011 Nonfiction Prize. Other writing has recently appeared in "Kyoto Journal," "Southern Humanities Review," "EarthLines," "Flyway," "Cold Mountain Review," "Three Coyotes," and "Redwood Coast Review.""