In recent years, the economic slump has made immigration even more politically sensitive than during more confident eras. His underlying stance is liberal: broadly supportive of the migrants, highlighting the human cost when their desires are blocked. But as a longstanding writer on the ambiguous relationships between rich and poor countries, he is too streetwise to be pious. He is alert to the complexities of a world where refugees and economic migrants are not always easy to tell apart – even in the minds of the immigrants themselves – and where the same traffickers smuggle people, willing and not, and other illegal cargoes. "Nothing in the world of unauthorised migration," he writes early on, "is quite what it seems."
Mary-Kay Wilmers and Jeremy Harding will be embarking on an east-coast tour of the US this month. This is a rare opportunity for Americans to hear from Mary-Kay Wilmers, author of The Eitingons and editor of the London Review of Books, and Jeremy Harding, author of Mother Country and an LRB contributing editor, on the role of memoir in contemporary letters.
In a recent piece for the Boston Globe, reviewer Amanda Heller reads Jeremy Harding's memoir, Mother Country, as a comment on national character:
If the secrecy surrounding adoption in America has to do with sex, in England, just as revealing of national character, it has to do with class. Harding's quest soon led him to the stunning realization that his own origins were not the only ones his parents had deliberately obscured.
Visit the Boston Globe to read the full review.