Publisher’s Weekly (starred review):

Taking his cue from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days and Xavier de Maistre’s Voyage Around My Room, historian Damrosch (How to Read World Literature) embarks on an enlightening tour of global literature. Stuck inside during the Covid-19 pandemic, Damrosch decided to travel via his bookshelves, the results of which are organized here by location: in the section on London, for example, he contends that Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is a “subtly subversive book... never confined to its immediate time and place.” In Paris, meanwhile, Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood provides a “darkly ironic portrayal of the Left Bank’s louche denizens”; in Florence, Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron might be the world’s “first performance of a talking cure”; and in Palestine, poet Mahmoud Darwish captures the struggles of displaced Palestinians in his collection The Butterfly’s Burden. Damrosch’s richly conceived survey offers readers a colorful map for an illuminating, enlivening tour of their own libraries. Travel fans and literature lovers alike will find something to savor.


Kirkus Reviews:

Damrosch, chair of the department of comparative literature at Harvard and founder of its Institute for World Literature, mimics Jules Verne’s ambitious itinerary of world travel from east to west as he delves into 16 geographical groups of five books “that have responded to times of crises and deep memories of trauma,” navigating “our world’s turbulent water with the aid of literature’s map of imaginary times and places.” As he moves along, delving into plots, characters, and themes, and both prose and poetry, over centuries, he creates a vast, fascinating latticework of books within books.


The Guardian (UK), 10/24/21:


Smithsonian Magazine, 11/18/21: