An excerpt from essay by Marita Golden in the book "three minutes or less: life lessons from America's greatest writers "

Like their creator, my fictional characters reject the notion of life lived on automatic pilot. The most important people in my books see life as a flame, something that when lived properly bristles and squirms, even as it glows. In the autobiography Migrations of the Heart, the heroine, who just happened to be me, came of age in Washington, D.C., and began the process of becoming an adult person everywhere else. If you sell your first piece of writing in Manhattan, give birth to your only child in Lagos, experience Paris in the spring with someone you love, and return to Washington after thirteen years of self-imposed exile to write the Washington novel nobody else had (and you thought you never would), tickets, visas, lingua franca will all become irrelevant. When all places fingerprint the soul, which grasp is judged to be the strongest? In my novel A Woman's Place, one woman leaves America to join a liberation struggle in Africa. In Long Distance Life. Naomi Johnson flees 1930s North Carolina and comes up south to Washington, D.C., to find and make her way. Thirty years later her daughter returns to that complex, unpredictable geography and is sculpted like some unexpected work of art by the civil-rights movement.

What is the connection that the writer is managing to make between the preceding context and "tickets, visas..."? And especially what does she want to convey through "tickets, visas, lingua franca will all become irrelevant"? Irrelevant to what?

1 Answer 1


The writer is describing herself and her characters as citizens of all places, and of none. The barriers between places are irrelevant to them, and therefore so are the tools traditionally required to cross those barriers: tickets (plane, train or bus), visas and lingua franca (commonly understood language).

Personally, I'm a bit skeptical.

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