What’s new in travel books

I’ve already mentioned a few of my favourites among books published in the first half of the year. Here are some of the travel-related books due over the next few months, ranging in subject from Nazi Germany to Japanese cuisine, and in place from Pakistan to the British Isles.

While his fellow graduates from Princeton set off to be “corporate conquistadors”, Kushanava Choudhury went to Calcutta  — which he had left with his family at the age of 12 for New Jersey — to work on the local paper. After postgraduate studies at Yale, he went back again, determined to “make sense of the city that had escaped and defied me [while I was] a journalist.” The Epic City: The World On the Streets in Calcutta (Bloomsbury, August 10) is the result. According to the writer and historian William Dalrymple, it “marks the arrival of a major new talent”.

How did Germany look to visitors — and there were many of them, particularly Britons and Americans — in the run-up to the Second World War? That’s a question Julia Boyd sets out to answer with Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People (Elliott & Thompson, August 10), which draws on scores of previously unpublished diaries and letters. Drawn together, she says, “they generate an extraordinary three-dimensional picture of Germany under Hitler”.

Stories evoking Amsterdam’s pre-war past, before the dismantling of Jewish culture by the Nazis, feature in Amsterdam Tales (Oxford University Press, August 24), a collection of fiction, memoirs and anecdotes ranging in time from the 17th century to the 21st. Translated by Paul Vincent and edited by Helen Constantine, it is part of a series from OUP that has already included anthologies from Paris, Copenhagen and Vienna.

For his debut Walking the Woods and the Water, which was short-listed for the 2015 Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award, Nick Hunt retraced the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor on his epic 1930s trek from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn. In Where The Wild Winds Are (Nicholas Brealey, September 7), he is borne along by the very forces he is pursuing, starting with the roaring Helm through the Pennines and finishing with the Mistral in the south of France. It’s a book, his publishers say, “that makes the invisible visible”.

What news we hear in the West about Pakistan is rarely good, a fact reflected in the Foreign Office’s advisory page about the country, which is not exactly an encouragement to visit. In Travels in a Dervish Cloak (Eland, September 28), Isambard Wilkinson, who worked there as a foreign correspondent during the “War on Terror”, sets out to explore the land behind the headlines, for what his publishers promise will be “a funny, hashish- and whisky-scented travel book from the front line”.

In his last book, Coastlines, Patrick Barkham beat the bounds of the National Trust’s seaside holdings. In Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago (Granta, October 5), he heads offshore. Inspired by a DH Lawrence story about a man seeking peace on successively smaller islands, he travels through 11 outposts of the British Isles, moving from large to medium to tiny, “seeking… the essence of what it is to be an islander”.

Ten years after their first visit to Japan, which led to the award-winning Sushi and Beyond, Michael Booth returns with his family “to delve deeper into the country’s food culture, to see what we’d missed, and [to] get to know the Japanese a little better”. He tells all — including a story about a chef who sacrificed a limb in pursuit of the ultimate bowl of ramen — in The Meaning of Rice — and Other Tales from the Belly of Japan (Jonathan Cape, October 12).

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