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: A Meditation on Beauty 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 of beauty. Such considerations lead her to questions about intimacy, queerness, home, memory, love, and other aspects of human experience. 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.
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
2020 Spring Preview: Nonfiction —Quill and Quire
Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Nonfiction Preview —49th Shelf
40 Works of Canadian Nonfiction to Watch for in Spring 2020 —CBC Books
Nursing the World to Health —Toronto International Festival of Authors Blog
“This book would suggest that beauty is not a thing in and of itself but, instead, it is where things touch. Beauty is in points of connection: doctors pulling screaming babies into the world, lovers wanting to press places understood as too taboo to touch, places where words, thoughts, and feelings come together.” —Emilia Nielsen, Plenitude Magazine
Five debut authors share the stories behind their work —Quill and Quire
A doctor’s search for beauty: An Interview with Bahar Orang —Maisonneuve
Bahar Orang is a writer and physician-in-training living in Toronto. She has a BASc from McMaster University and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. She completed her MD at McMaster University, and is now completing specialty training in psychiatry in Toronto. Her poetry and essays have been published in such places as GUTS, Hamilton Arts & Letters, CMAJ, and Ars Medica. Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty is her first book.