In the heaving seas of the Southern Ocean, a small, red-hulled sailboat tossed and rolled, at the mercy of the tail end of a tempest. The boat’s mast was sheared away, its yellow sails sunk deep in the sea. Amid the wreckage of the cabin, Susie Goodall sloshed through water seeping in from the deck, which had cracked when a great wave somersaulted the boat end over end. She was freezing, having been lashed by ocean, rain, and wind. Her hands were raw and bloody. Except for the boat, her companion and home for the 15,000 miles she’d sailed over the past five months, Goodall was alone.
The 29-year-old British woman had spent three years readying for this voyage. It demanded more from her than she could have imagined. She loved the planning of it, rigging her boat for a journey that might mean not stepping on land for nearly a year. But she was unprepared for the attention it drew—for the fact that everyone wanted a piece of her story.
The French, by and large, do not eat standing up, though there are a few exceptions to this largely unspoken rule: the quignon of a warm baguette, torn off and consumed as the loaf is transported home. Petit gris snails, which, in Occitanie, are grilled over vinewood, flambéed with lard, skewered on metal picks, and shuttled straight into the mouth, chased with cold rosé. And then there's socca, the three-ingredient chickpea flatbread of Nice, destined to be consumed hot and fresh as you wend your way through a local market.
Unlike wheat-and-egg-based crêpes or buckwheat galettes, which hail from northwestern Brittany, socca begins with a base of chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. Ladled onto an olive oil-greased copper pan as wide as the socca-maker's wingspan will allow, it's baked in a wood-fired oven, emerging crisp on the bottom and as tender as a good Yorkshire pudding within. And according to Niçois culinary historian Alex Benvenuto, it's a specialty best eaten "seasoned heavily with pepper and very hot, and, of course, with the fingers."
Run and Hide almost feels intentionally unpleasant to read, as if its author is anxious about the ease with which ideas travel through space in the Internet age and wants to remind us that deep engagement with the problems of the world should feel like a bit of a slog. Conversely, he mocks self-described progressives who short circuit if they have to read (or write) anything longer than 180 characters. In a hilarious scene near the end of the novel, Mishra invites us into a London party that Alia and Arun attend. Milling among the invitees, Arun meets an academic who “periodically announces a long and necessary break from Twitter to work on his book, only to sign back in a few days later, in order to, he claims, alert his followers to a new and important atrocity, usually of a racial nature: the latest one is the persecution of Meghan Markle by the British press.”
The novel inhabits an emotionally rich terrain, where past failures shine light on future possibilities, where strength comes from vulnerability and where chance challenges choices.
I don’t know what made me look you up, this many years later.
We weren’t friends—at best I may have merely noticed you;
at worst I may have laughed when the others said you were weird
and that you ate paste.