Anita Sethi was on a journey through northern England when she became the victim of a race hate crime. After the event Anita experienced panic attacks and anxiety. A crushing sense of claustrophobia made her long for wide open spaces; the Pennines – the ‘backbone of Britain’ – called to Anita with a magnetic force. Although a racist had told her to leave, she was intent on travelling freely and without fear. Anita’s journey through the landscapes of the North is one of reclamation, a way of saying that she belongs in the UK as a brown woman, as much as a white man does. Her journey transforms what began as an ugly experience of hate into one offering hope and finding beauty after brutality. Every footstep is an act of persistence. Every word written against the rising tide of hate speech is an act of resistance.
The Unremembered Places is a poignant and enthralling take on some of Scotland’s most fascinating, yet overlooked, places of interest.Â Shortlisted for the The Great Outdoors Awards – Outdoor Book of the Year 2020Â andÂ the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2020.
From the moment she hears Lev’s violin for the first time, Helena Attlee is captivated. She is told that it is an Italian instrument, named after its former Russian owner. Eager to discover all she can about its ancestry, and the stories contained within its delicate wooden body, she sets out for its birthplace, Cremona, once the hometown of famous luthier Antonio Stradivari. This is the beginning of a beguiling journey whose end she could never have anticipated.
When Indian journalist Taran Khan arrives in Kabul in 2006, she imagines it as a return – a journey to the land her forebears hailed from centuries ago. She finds an unexpected guide in her grandfather who – despite never visiting the city – knows it intimately through books and stories, poetry and myth. With his voice in her head, and falling in with poets, doctors and other Kabulis, Khan uncovers a place quite different from the one she anticipated. Her wanderings reveal a fragile city in a state of flux: stricken by near-constant war, but flickering with the promise of peace, a shape-shifting place governed by age-old codes but experimenting with new modes of living. These walks take her to the unvisited tombs of the dead, and to the land of the living: the booksellers, archaeologists, intrepid film-makers and entrepreneurs who are remaking and rebuilding this ancient 3000-year-old city.
Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two vast lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region’s past, and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova’s maternal family. As she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin, Kassabova encounters a civilisational crossroads. The Lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, and crowned by the old Roman road, the via Egnatia. Once a trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia’s most culturally diverse areas. By exploring on water and land the stories of poets, fishermen, and caretakers, misfits, rulers, and inheritors of war and exile, Kassabova uncovers the human history shaped by the Lakes.
Siberia’s story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell. Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos – grand instruments created during the boom years of the 19th century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood. How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle. But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world.
“Tremendously eclectic and classily produced . . . each volume gets under the skin of a country or a city in a multifaceted way that feels essential in these times of narrowing national horizons.”-Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller
Judith Schalansky is a wholly original writer whose books articulate perfectly what she wishes to say. Each of the pieces, following the conventions of a different genre, considers something that is irretrievably lost to the world, including the paradisal pacific island of Tuanaki, the Caspian Tiger, the Villa Sacchetti in Rome, Sappho’s love poems, Greta Garbo’s fading beauty, a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, and the former East Germany’s Palace of the Republic. As a child of the former East Germany, it’s not surprising that the dominant emotion in Schalansky’s work should be ‘loss’ and its aftermath, but what is extraordinary is the thoroughly engaging mixture of intellectual curiosity, down-to-earth grasp of life’s pitiless vitality, ironic humour, stylistic elegance and intensity of feeling.
‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’ was hailed as a masterpiece when it first appeared in 1942 and became ‘the central book’ of Rebecca West’s life. The book was completed as Yugoslavia was plunged into political turmoil, followed by invasion and warfare.
Beyond Indonesia’s lush rainforests, tropical seas and abundant rice fields lies a country not often seen by visitors. It is one of bustling local markets, lively street food stalls, colourful shops and houses and generous community spirit. From these islands comes one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, weaving flavours of lemongrass, chilli, tamarind and coconut into dishes that are fragrant, colourful and bold. In this book, Australian-born chef Lara Lee takes us on a journey to trace her family’s Indonesian roots, and in the kitchens of her grandmother, extended family and welcoming strangers alike, she discovers the secrets to real Indonesian cookery. Now she shares more than 80 authentic, mouth-watering recipes that have been passed down through the generations, so you can recreate dishes such as nasi goreng, beef rendang, chilli prawn satay and pandan cake.
For centuries, container ships have sailed and motored their way across the world’s oceans and yet little thought is given to the men who, today, cross seas for a living. Their cargo is everything that is essential to the world on dry land, and the story of how the things we need get to where we need them is anything but simple. Teams of men take on physically taxing tasks, face battering waves, endure administrative deadlocks, and brave pirate-infested waters. And all around the sea remains an unknowable, unassailable force, its vastness instantly dwarfing even the largest container vessel. Horatio Clare climbed aboard as writer-in-residence to a large shipping company – and was taken in by Cpatain and crew as a temporary seafarer. In this book, Clare provides a beautiful and terrifying portrait of the ocean and a study of big business afloat.
‘A Time of Gifts’ and ‘Between the Woods and the Water’ were the first two volumes in a projected trilogy that would describe the walk that Patrick Leigh Fermor undertook at the age of 18 from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. This book completes the extraordinary journey.
Born on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall, as a child Judith Schalansky could travel only through the pages of an atlas. Now she has created her own, taking us across the oceans of the world to fifty remote islands.