SOCIAL SCIENCES

This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers

Norton. Feb. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781324003205. $25. SOC SCI
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Following his father’s heart attack, Sharlet (English, Dartmouth Coll.; The Family) spent many a night in isolation as he traveled between his home and his father’s, often in the loneliest hours of the night. In these travels he met others living isolated lives, including graveyard shift workers and people experiencing illness or homelessness or violence, and started documenting their lives by posting their photographs on his Instagram account. Through these stories, Sharlet not only looks at their pain, but explores his own, and confronts these stories not by glamorizing the suffering, but humanizing it by breaking through the isolation and getting to know the subjects of his images, erasing the line between journalist and subject.
VERDICT Sharlet provides a poignant and wholly intimate portrait of the lives of those who are often overlooked in our society, breathing a sense of humanity into a part of our world that is so often inhumane. A highly recommended book that is at times difficult to take in and difficult to put down.

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