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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.

‘Islands of Abandonment’ on Baillie Gifford short list

I’m delighted to see that Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape (William Collins) was short-listed on Friday for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.

On the bill for the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival

Contributors to next month’s Kendal Mountain Literature Festival (November 18-21) in Cumbria include Anita Sethi, author of I Belong Here, Nick Hunt, (Outlandish), Tharik Hussain (Minarets in the Mountains), Monisha Rajesh (Epic Train Journeys) and Fred Pearce (A Trillion Trees: How We Can Reforest Our World). For the full programme, see the festival website. The Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature (for which short-listed books include Signs of Life by Stephen Fabes) will be presented in an online event as part of the festival on November 19.

Staying at home with Billy Collins

If you’re a traveller whose plans have been upended by Coronavirus, find “Consolation”, on this National Poetry Day, in the work of the great Billy Collins

‘The Long Field’ competition winners

Happy reading to my five competition winners, who will each be receiving shortly a copy of Pamela Petro’s The Long Field. The five are: Ruth Bradshaw, Stephen Hackett, Dr Claire Harris, Martin Pearson and Jane Simmonds.

Thanks again to the publisher, Little Toller, for putting up the prize, and to all those who retweeted my posts about it. And thanks, of course, to Pamela Petro for the book, a wonderful exploration of the Welsh idea of hiraeth (“a soul-deep homesickness”). You can still read an extract here on Deskbound Traveller.

Banff Mountain Book short lists

The finalists have been announced in the Banff Mountain Book Competition, which recognises excellence in mountain literature from around the world, with more than $20,000 in prize money awarded across eight categories, from fiction and poetry to mountain imagery and guidebooks. Jessica J Lee (for Two Trees Make a Forest) and Leon McCarron (for The Land Beyond: A Thousand Miles on Foot Through the Heart of the Middle East) are both finalists in the adventure-travel category. Category winners will be announced in October, and the $4,000 grand-prize winner will be named on November 5.

‘The Amur River’ on Radio 4

Colin Thubron’s The Amur River (see below) is Book of the Week on Radio 4 from this morning.

Hanbury-Tenison on space, Survival and the lessons of Covid-19

Yesterday’s interview in the Hard Talk slot from BBC News is well worth a listen. The explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison talks to Stephen Sackur about space exploration (“a complete waste of time”), the work of Survival International, the lessons of Covid-19… and why we should stop flying long-haul.

Thubron on the Amur — and ageing

Colin Thubron (see earlier post) talks about the Amur River, and the impact of age on his travels and his writing, in an interview on Jeremy Bassetti’s Travel Writing World.

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