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Homesick for Another World Demands Empathy and Compassion

Homesick for Another World is a collection of 14 short stories written by Ottessa Moshfegh. The collection was originally published in 2017.

Homesick for Another World is a collection of 14 short stories written by Ottessa Moshfegh. The collection was originally published in 2017.

By Molly Sipes, Staff Writer

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(Disclaimer: This book contains mature content.)

A teacher, a dermatologist, an aspiring actor, a raging alcoholic, a resentful widow, and a narcissistic slob. These are just a handful of the colorful characters that live between the pages of Ottessa Moshfegh’s compilation of short stories, Homesick for Another World.

The book follows the lives of many different people going about their lives. Some are young and unambitious and others are aged, jaded, and emotionless.

While each of Moshfegh’s characters are distinctly original, they are all very unapologetically themselves. They act on their urges and, for the most part, do whatever they want without considering the consequences.

These decisions often causes them to be absolutely horrible. They lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and treat their loved ones like dirt. One character, a middle aged teacher, sits by unmoving, while her pregnant teenage housekeeper bleeds out!

Through all of their stories, they are remorseless. And yet, inexplicably, I find myself rooting for these characters.

By not dancing around the realities of these people, their flaws and nasty habits, Moshfegh allows her characters to simply exist as they are, and that really makes them feel real and relatable.

So when the characters give up, settle, or keep on living a lifestyle that fills them with discontentment and disappointment, offering no explanation as to why they are not making a change, I am heartbroken for them. Their stories move me.

Because despite their actions and who they might hurt, they themselves are hurting, and that makes them human. Being able to follow the inner workings of their thoughts—deciphering their motivations and desires—connected me to these people in a way I would not have otherwise experienced.

This book is filled with people living miserably despite their best interests. Their cities are worn down and melancholy, but in their lives, there is joy in the little things. Small pockets of excitement and an appreciation for life’s hidden treasures.

Despite all of its flaws, this book has me homesick for this other world.

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Homesick for Another World Demands Empathy and Compassion