Finalist for the 2021 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
To devote oneself to the study of beauty is to offer footnotes to the universe for all the places and all the moments that one observes beauty. I can no longer grab beauty by her wrists and demand articulation or meaning. I can only take account of where things touch.
Part lyric essay, part prose poetry, Where Things Touch grapples with the manifold meanings and possibilities of beauty.
Drawing on her experiences as a physician-in-training, Orang considers clinical encounters and how they relate to the concept and very idea of beauty. Such considerations lead her to questions about intimacy, queerness, home, memory, love, and other aspects of human existence. Throughout, beauty is ultimately imagined as something inextricably tied to care: the care of lovers, of patients, of art and literature, and the various non-human worlds that surround us.
Eloquent and meditative in its approach, beauty, here, beyond base expectations of frivolity and superficiality, is conceived of as a thing to recover.Where Things Touch is an exploration of an essential human pleasure, a necessary freedom by which to challenge what we know of ourselves and the world we inhabit.
Praise for Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty:
"A strikingly lyric thoughtful new voice, Orang writes with the knowledge that feeling is intelligence and thought is sensory. 'What happens to beauty when it's removed from its own dirt?' Beauty is tangled with language, with a lover, with medicine, flowers, ocean, care and compassion. These explorations are insightful, incisive and beautiful—and yes, touching." —Gary Barwin, Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlisted author of Yiddish for Pirates
"Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty is an erotic conversation with the manifold relations of beauty. Refracted through the lens of caregiving and caretaking, Bahar Orang’s lyric voice roams through poetry, Persian myth, and hospitals to enchant the everyday, returning us to an intimacy beyond the page—back to the body. Orang guides us with heart-centred intelligence in this beautiful and wise book." —Shazia Hafiz Ramji, author of Port of Being
"With immense poetic resources, and weaving together the fabric of her life into a great tapestry, Bahar Orang reflects on beauty in terms of medical identity, love, race, and art. Variably paced, with a vibrant feminist subjectivity, Orang’s debut is worthy of its subject, devising 'new shapes for intimacy, new words for care.'; An incredible work." —Shane Neilson, author of New Brunswick