‘Perhaps learning a new language is a reminder of when we were unable to say anything at all, when we did not have the means to communicate that we were hungry or cold or simply bewildered, and some of that distress must remain and is enlivened by occasions of inarticulacy. But it must also be my own specific experience of having been obliged to immigrate, at the age of eleven, from my mother tongue, Arabic, to English. And if you have done such a move once, any further disruption can come to represent a mortal danger.’

– Hisham Matar, A Month in Siena