Literature: Escape the Prison

This is a story a cynic or skeptic wouldn’t think is possible. A Somali man in jail reads Anna Karenina and it changes his life. The man doesn’t read it strictly speaking, but hears in tapped out in a type of Morse code from an adjacent doctor cellmate and he deciphers it. And it is the features of Tolstoy’s writing–the shift in perspective of several scenes; his portrayal of the trapped circumstances of the Russian noblewoman–that wrest a pulsing empathy from this man. He regains faith in his wife and direction in his life. There is a wonderful circle of relations here between the man, the doctor, the wife, Tolstoy, and “Anna Karenina.”

Breaking down class and racial barriers, the more I think of this, the more extraordinary it is: proof that literature can change a life. Listen to the account on NPR’s Rough Translation podcast: http://www.npr.org/2017/09/11/550058353/rough-translation-how-anna-karenina-saved-a-somali-inmates-life