A heart-rending meditation on aging, grief, and the universal experience of facing down death.
Shifting the Silence breaks the taboo around writing and speaking about our own deaths. In short, unrelenting paragraphs, Adnan grapples with the breadth of her life at ninety-five, the process of aging, and the knowledge of her own approaching death. The personal is continuously projected outwards and mirrored back through ruminations on climate catastrophe, the ongoing war in Syria, Mars missions, and Adnan’s view of the sea out of her window in Brittany in a poignant, often painful interplay between the interior and the cosmic.
“When you have no way to go anywhere, what do you do? Of course, nothing.” Adnan’s prose-poetic rumination on death would strike a chord at any time, but it feels especially apt in this moment of protracted grief. Peppered with questions—“There are so many islands I dreamed of visiting, where have they gone?”—Adnan’s lamentations are recursive and soothing. To live is to die, and the poets can ease the passage.