New books on travel and place

Thanks to Daunt Books (whose Marylebone shop is one of my favourite buildings in London) for tipping me off in recent emails about two new titles: The Orwell Tour and Unravelling the Silk Road. In the first (Icon Books, £20, July 7), the historian Oliver Lewis sets out to visit all the places where Orwell lived, worked and wrote. “Beginning in northern India, where Orwell was born in 1903, and ending in the Oxfordshire village of Sutton Courtenay, where he was laid to rest in 1950, [the book] offers an accessible and informative new biography… through the lens of place.” Lewis will be in conversation with Sophy Roberts, author of The Lost Pianos of Siberia, at Daunt Books in Hampstead, London, on July 11.

  In Unravelling The Silk Road (also from Icon Books, £25), Chris Aslan, who has spent 15 years living and working in Central Asia, combines a history of the textile trade with his own experiences of life in the region. 

  In The Last Ride of the Pony Express (published by Little Brown in the United States, $30), Will Grant recounts his journey in 2019 with two horses from St Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, along the Pony Express Trail. He undertook it, he says, “as a large-scale exercise in horsemanship with the goal of achieving a boots-on-the-ground understanding of the famed Pony Express mail service. I also wanted to make a transect of the cultural West.” The book was reviewed earlier this month by Carl Hoffman in The Washington Post.

  Geoff Nicholson’s 20-plus books include novels (Bleeding London and Footsucker) as well as non-fiction (The Lost Art of Walking and Walking in Ruins). He’s been striding out all his life, but walking took on new meaning for him when he was diagnosed with  a rare and incurable blood cancer. His forthcoming book, Walking on Thin Air (The Westbourne Press/Saqi Books, £12.99, August), is comprised of 99 reflections, which his publisher sums up as “a scattering of thoughts, memories and a poignant awareness of his own mortality”. He describes his own walks and relates them to those of others – the street photographers Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus and Daido Moriyama; the artists Richard Long, John Baldessari and Sophie Calle; and the writers Jorge Luis Borges, Kathy Acker, Teju Cole, Lauren Elkin and Virginia Woolf.

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