Welcome to the opening day of Deskbound Traveller, a new home for travel storytelling. It’s going to be an accommodating home, roomy enough for geography, history, natural history, autobiography, memoir and verse, as well as a few fibs. The “About” page will tell you more.
Today I am publishing extracts from the joint winners of this year’s Dolman Travel Book Award, Britain’s only prize specifically for narrative travel writing: Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie and The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. The passage from the former has inspired and is accompanied by an illustration from the artist Paul Cox, the man responsible for Deskbound Traveller’s beautiful banner.
Under “New writing” you will also find an extract from Peter Levi’s The Light Garden of the Angel King, a portrait of Afghanistan which, if not quite new, has just been reissued by Eland Books and reads as freshly now as it did on its first appearance in 1972.
Under “Picture stories” you will find images of this year’s monsoon in Bangladesh by GMB Akash, a past winner of the Travel Photographer of the Year prize (coupled with a passage from Alexander Frater’s Chasing The Monsoon, a book that makes you positively want to get soaked), and drawings made in Syria by George Butler, a talented and courageous artist specialising in travel and current affairs.
Over the next few days I will be adding extracts from two titles that were shortlisted for the Dolman Travel Book Award: The Robber of Memories by Michael Jacobs and Meander by Jeremy Seal (both are about river journeys, one in Colombia, the other in Turkey).
I will also be publishing new poems with a strong sense of place from collections by Maurice Riordan (The Water Stealer) and Helen Mort (Division Street), both of which have been shortlisted for this year’s T S Eliot Prize. Over the next few weeks and months, I’m planning, too, to add work by novelists and short-story writers. Fiction, after all, is the greatest form of transport we have.
If you like what you find here, please spread the word, and (Christmas is coming) buy the books, pictures and illustrations you see featured.