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Strangeland by Tracey Emin


by Tracey Emin

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Some books are crucial at certain points in your life, and this was one of those for me. I stumbled upon this book in the library when I was studying an Arts degree in the country. It was a strange – and possibly the most detrimental – time of my life, where I was growing into an adult woman. I had begun experiencing a great amount of conflicting emotions due to a big break-up, isolation from my home-town, and the painfully new feeling of ‘fending for myself’. This book was an absolute awakening for me in many ways, it was my first real insight into feminism, poverty, privilege, misogyny, life as a young woman in the world. This book became one of my favourites all those years ago – so recently I decided to re-read it and see how my perception of it had changed. I was rather pleased to discover that it was still as impactful now as it had been all those years ago.

Strangeland is a memoir, separated into three parts: Motherland, Fatherland and Traceyland. It is an array of recollections, stories and musings describing certain pivotal moments in Emin’s life, some of which are utterly unimaginable. Starting at Motherland, we get an insight into the rape and abuse she experienced as a young child whilst living in poverty, which is incredibly intense and difficult to stomach. Fatherland takes us through Emin’s Turkish culture, exploring the history and tradition of her fathers roots, including brief mentions of her Sudanese Grandfather. Emin has experienced an abnormal amount of misfortune in her life, especially as a young woman – even within this more cultural section of the book, she deals with issues that most young people will never face – including her father’s interest in marrying a 16 year old girl, whilst in his 60’s.

Finally we arrive at Traceyland, a place where Emin is completely herself, in all her feminist, artistic glory. In this section, I noticed a tone which is representative of the current #metoo movement, where Emin discusses the fact that ‘no means no’ and other ways in which men abuse power. The female body is a battleground as a young woman, and Emin explores this within her writing. There is a whole chapter titled ‘Advice on Unwanted Pregnancy’s’, including how to avoid them but also how to deal with them, and be kind to yourself during such an isolating time. Traceyland also explores the dichotomy that is the pain of being a tortured artist, whilst art has also saved her.

Strangeland is certainly not for the faint of heart, it combines lucid dreaming, disjointed essays, poetry and musings into one conglomerate of chapters that delve deep into Emin’s life. I’m glad I discovered this book at a pivotal point of my life, and that I was able to revisit it without disappointment. Emin is certainly not literary, but she can write an engaging and eye opening memoir.

- from polreaderblog[dot]wordpress[dot]com ( )
  polyreaderamy | Jun 11, 2018 |
Never such an apt title for an autobiography, this book is a weird and wonderful journey through memories & dreams, following none of the usual chronological formats of biographies, at times you are left wondering is this a recount of a dream or an event, either way, fascinating from start to finish, lover her or hate her, it's hard not to be impressed with someone who has so much hope and positivity shining through such a troubled past. ( )
1 vote breakbeat | Jun 8, 2010 |
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One of the most acclaimed and controversial artists of her generation, Tracey Emin is not only a visual artist. In this book she recalls her formative years in Margate, as well as exploring the Turkey of her forefathers and her life in present-day London.… (more)

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