The eight and a half pieces in John Berger’s new book here is where we meet (Bloomsbury) are described by the publisher as “fictions,” but could equally be read as fragments of autobiography. In “Lisboa,” the narrator, a man named John of Berger’s age and interests, encounters his mother, dead for fifteen years. “The thing you should know is this,” she tells him; “the dead don’t stay where they are buried.” The dead in this book are not ghosts; they move among the living as equals. In “Kraków,” the narrator walks through an open market in the Place Nowy and meets Ken, an older man who had a profound influence on him in their younger days. The narrator is old now and Ken is dead, although “I never knew exactly when or how he died,” and in that market square they continue their conversation casually, as if life and afterlife were one. The effect is a wonderful, sustained mild melancholy, a mood of reminiscence and reflection. But Berger’s melancholy is leavened with a generous amount of hope, something that distinguishes his work from that of Sebald, whose pages are also peopled by departed souls. Characters and themes recur throughout here is where we meet and knit the eight and a half pieces into a greater, emotionally rewarding whole, which is full of vivid, heartfelt writing—you’ll want to read it slowly in order to savour every page. I can also vouch for the sorrel soup recipe, which is threaded through “The Szum and The Ching,” a celebratory narrative of two friends. The soup is delicious.