Thubron and the power of great travel writing

It was Thubron weekend in the British press. The travel section of The Guardian had an extract from Colin Thubron’s latest book, The Amur River (Chatto & Windus, £20), for which, in his 80th year, he made an ambitious journey along the waterway that divides China and Russia. The author talked to Christina Lamb of The Sunday Times (“I’ve never accepted I am old. I always thought that if the mind is willing and you are enthusiastic enough the body will fall into line.”). And the book won glowing reviews from Sara Wheeler, in The Spectator,  and William Dalrymple, in The Daily Telegraph. The two saw it in much the same light. Wheeler concluded: “They say travel writing is dead, but it isn’t. Here is a writer at the top of his game, one from whom those toiling on the lower slopes have much to learn. Thubron, having seen and reflected, has distilled his observations into a volume that will outlive Cassandras, post-Soviet gangsters and every smuggler who ever stacked a raft.” For Dalrymple, The Amur River was “not just a literary triumph in itself, it is also a demonstration of the continued power of great travel writing… One can only hope that this epic journey is not Thubron’s last.”

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