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Petro on ‘Travel Writing World’

Pamela Petro, currently on tour in Britain with The Long Field, is also the latest interviewee on Jeremy Bassetti’s Travel Writing World podcast.

Voices from ‘Osebol’ on Radio 4

I’ve now read Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village. I finished its 800 pages in a couple of days — partly because they’re laid out like a prose poem, partly because they’re full of life and I didn’t want to stop. The author, Marit Kapla, was on Start the Week on Radio 4 this morning; you can catch up on BBC Sounds.

Dervla Murphy at 90

“If you’re fearless, you don’t need courage,” says Dervla Murphy (right), who turns 90 today, in an interview with Ethel Crowley in the Irish Examiner. If you’d like to hear more from the redoubtable Dervla, I recommend Philip Watson’s 2018 interview for The Guardian, Sue Lawley’s in 1993 for Desert Island Discs, and my own interview from 2015. More recently, Dervla figures in a chapter in Tim Hannigan’s excellent The Travel Writing Tribe, a book from which travel writers, as well as travel readers, can draw pleasure and profit. Then, of course, there are her own books, published by Eland.

‘Jan Morris: Writing a Life’

A year on from the death of Jan Morris, Horatio Clare assesses her remarkable legacy and explores some of the myths she built up about herself and her life. Jan Morris: Writing a Life will be broadcast in the Archive on 4 slot on Radio 4 on Saturday (November 13).

A book of essays Morris prepared for posthumous publication, Allegorizings, came out in Britain at the start of this month (Faber, £14) and in the US in April.

Osebol: ‘a microcosm of life on Earth’

I like the sound of Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village (Allen Lane, £20), which has become a bestseller in Sweden. It’s a book in which Marit Kapla, editor of a cultural magazine in Gothenburg, returns to her home place and asks its 40 inhabitants to talk about their past and present. Reviewing it yesterday in The Observer, Nicci Gerrard said that “the voices that have come from this ordinary little village have become like an existential meditation on what it is to be alive, to be human, creatures living in time while the river runs on and wolves howl in the woods… Kapla has made her undramatic little patch of Earth into a microcosm of life. Its specificity allows it to be universal.”

A ‘sun-drenched hymn to Greece’

The nature writer Peter Fiennes’s “sun-drenched hymn to Greece”, A Thing of Beauty: Travels in Mythical and Modern Greece (Oneworld, £18.99), was reviewed yesterday in The Observer by Alex Preston. The book, he says, is “a must-read for anyone visiting Greece but, at this time when travel is tricky… perhaps even more essential for those of us who don’t know when next we’ll get there”. Fiennes was interviewed recently by Jeremy Bassetti for his Travel Writing World podcast.

Kazakhstan from the rails

Just a few months before the travel restrictions prompted by Coronavirus, Mario Heller, a Berlin-based Swiss photographer, made a three-week railway journey through Kazakhstan. His wonderful picture essay was published on Friday by The Guardian, and you can find more of the images on his own website.

Kabul ‘through cracks in the silence’

Taran N Khan, author of the prize-winning Shadow City: A Woman Walks Kabul, writes for Literary Hub on what she has heard “through cracks in the silence” since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Atkins explores exile in new book for Faber

A new book from William Atkins, who won the Stanford Dolman prize for The Immeasurable World, will be published next May by Faber, the company announced yesterday. In Exiles: Three Island Journeys, Atkins travels to the places where three people were banished at the height of European colonialism: Louise Michel, a French anarchist (New Caledonia in the South Pacific); Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, a Zulu prince (St Helena in the South Atlantic), and Lev Shternberg, a Ukrainian revolutionary (Sakhalin Island, off the coast of Siberia).

Atkins said: “‘Exile’ is a word that has haunted me all my adult life; this book is my attempt to grapple with its meanings, by following the journeys of three people I came to love and admire.”

Laura Hassan, associate publisher at Faber, said the book was “a moving, empathetic exploration of exile that will resonate in our era of mass human displacement. Part biography, part travel, part history, Exiles will cement Atkins’s reputation as one of our greatest writers of place.”

Atkins is guest editor of a special edition of Granta magazine on travel writing, due to be published next month.

Petro on tour with ‘The Long Field’

Pamela Petro will be in Britain in November to promote her new book The Long Field (Little Toller). For details of events, see her publisher’s Twitter account.

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