In The Small Heart of Things, Julian Hoffman intimately examines the myriad ways in which connections to the natural world can be deepened through an equality of perception, whether it's a caterpillar carrying its house of leaves, transhumant shepherds ranging high mountain pastures, a quail taking cover on an empty steppe, or a Turkmen family emigrating from Afghanistan to Istanbul.
Guided by Rainer Maria Rilke's belief that "everything beckons us to perceive it," Hoffman explores the area around the Prespa Lakes, shared by Greece, Albania, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From there he travels widely, believing that through awareness, curiosity, and openness we have the potential to forge abiding relationships with a range of places. The Small Heart of Things is a book about looking and listening. It incorporates travel and natural history writing, interweaving human stories with those of wild creatures as Hoffman illuminates how, when we accord places our close and patient attention, these many connections can teach us to be at home in the world.
Julian Hoffman was born in England and grew up in Canada. In 2000, he and his wife, Julia, moved to the Prespa Lakes in northern Greece where, after some years as market gardeners, they now monitor birds in sensitive upland areas where wind farms have been built or proposed. His essay "Faith in a Forgotten Place," which is taken from the manuscript of The Small Heart of Things, won the 2011 Terrain.org Nonfiction Prize. Other writing has recently appeared in Kyoto Journal, Southern Humanities Review, EarthLines, Flyway, Cold Mountain Review, Three Coyotes, and Redwood Coast Review.