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Pascale Petit and the RSL Ondaatje Prize

I was travelling last week when the awards dinner was held for the RSL Ondaatje Prize, for “a book evoking the spirit of a place”. In case you missed the news, the winner, for the first time, was a poet: Pascale Petit for Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books). On the author’s Twitter feed this morning I learnt that the book sold out on Amazon shortly after the announcement but is now in stock again.


Deskbound Traveller is taking a break while its editor escapes from the desk.

Following the fish

Every summer, king salmon swim 2,000 miles up the Yukon river in Alaska to spawn. For thousands of years, their journey has helped to sustain the native people. But with the effects of climate change and globalisation, the health and numbers of the salmon are  in question, and so is the fate of those who depend on them. Adam Weymouth followed the fish for Kings of the Yukon (Particular Books), which is published this week; he summarised his findings in an essay yesterday for The Observer.

RSL Ondaatje Prize winner will be announced tonight

The winner of one of my favourite literary awards, the RSL Ondaatje Prize — for a book “evoking the spirit of a place” — will be announced this evening. I’ll be on a plane at the time, but you can find out who has won by keeping an eye on the websites of Telegraph Travel and the Royal Society of Literature. On the former, you can read extracts from the six books on the short list.

Now out in paperback: ‘Where the Wild Winds Are’

Nick Hunt’s Where the Wild Winds Are (Nicholas Brealey) was one of my favourite travel books of 2017 and one my fellow judges and I short-listed for Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year. It’s now out in paperback and, courtesy of the author and his publishers, you can read an extract here on Deskbound Traveller.

The author, having spent four months in the Lake District, is now on the road promoting the paperback. He will be at the Bath Festival on May 24; at Convivium, in the Brecon Beacons, on June 23, and at Ways with Words, in Dartington, Devon, on July 12. (At the start of June he will also be at the Trieste Festival of the Bora — named for one of the winds he followed — to launch the Italian translation of the book, which has the beautiful title Dove Soffiano i Venti Selvaggi.)

New Orleans at 300

My article for Telegraph Travel marking the tricentennial of the founding of New Orleans is now online.

Lawrence Wright talks Texas

Contributors to the Book Review podcast of The New York Times include Julian Barnes, on his latest novel, and Lawrence Wright, talking about his portrait of the Lone Star State, God Save Texas.

Back to Shetland with Tallack

Malachy Tallack’s first book, Sixty Degrees North, a journey west from Shetland along the 60th parallel, was Book of the Week on Radio 4 on its publication in 2015. His first novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World, out this week, has been chosen as Book at Bedtime, starting tonight at 10.45. According to the blurb, it’s “set against the rugged west coast of Shetland, in a community faced with extinction”. You can read an extract on the website of his publisher, Canongate.

‘Shepherdess of the Glaciers’

Thanks to Village Ways (with which I’ve headed into the hills in India and Ethiopia) for pointing me on Twitter towards a trailer for Shepherdess of the Glaciers, a documentary telling the story of Tsering, one of the last shepherdesses in Ladakh. You can read more about her and the making of the film on the website Feminism in India. The writer Rose George, another lover of the hills (who pounds up them a bit faster than I do), was equally taken with the film. As she put it on her own Twitter feed: “And us fell runners think we’re hard. This woman and her life are transfixing.”

A liberal’s love letter to Texas

My review of God Save Texas (Allen Lane), Lawrence Wright’s fond but clear-eyed portrait of his home state, appeared today in print in the Review section of The Daily Telegraph. You can now read it here on Deskbound Traveller.

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