granta124travelcoverGavin Francis’s Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins was shortlisted for this year’s Ondaatje Prize, an annual award of £10,000 of which Deskbound Traveller heartily approves: it’s for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that evokes the spirit of a place. As a child, Francis was taken with “the pristine purity” of the polar regions as depicted in an atlas. The Himalayas also appealed, because they were just as blankly white. In the online version of the latest travel edition of Granta magazine, he reports on a motorcycle trip through those mountains – one that nearly proved fatal.