Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year, in association with The Authors' Club

WINNER:
Interstate: Hitchhiking Through the State of a Nation by Julian Sayarer

Recruited to work on a documentary project, Julian goes to New York convinced he has hit the big time at last.

 

Finding the project cancelled, he wanders the city streets and, with nowhere else to go, decides to set out hitchhiking for San Francisco. Revisiting this timeless American journey finds an unseen nation in rough shape. Along the road are homeless people and anarchists who have dropped out of society altogether, and blue-collar Americans who seem to have lost all meaning in forgotten towns and food deserts.

 

Helped along by roadside communities and encounters that somehow keep a sense of optimism alive, Interstate grapples with the fault lines in US society. It tells a tale of Steinbeck and Kerouac, set against the indifference of the vast US landscape and the frustrated energy of American culture and politics at the start of a new century.

SHORTLIST:
Deep South by Paul Theroux

Acclaimed and beloved travel writer Paul Theroux turns his attention to his own country - America - for the first time in Deep South.

For the past fifty years, Paul Theroux has travelled to the far corners of the earth - to China, India, Africa, the Pacific Islands, South America, Russia, and elsewhere - and brought them to life in his cool, exacting prose. In Deep South he turns his gaze to a region much closer to his home.

Travelling through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, Paul Theroux writes of the stunning landscapes he discovers - the deserts, the mountains, the Mississippi - and above all, the lives of the people he meets.

The South is a place of contradictions. There is the warm, open spirit of the soul food cafes, found in every town, no matter how small. There is the ruined grandeur of numberless ghostly towns, long abandoned by the industries that built them. There are the state gun shows and the close-knit,subtly forlorn tribe of people who attend and run them. Deep in the heart of his native country, Theroux discovers a land more profoundly foreign than anything he has previously experienced.

Squirrel Pie (and other stories): Adventures in Food Across the Globe by Elisabeth Luard

Elisabeth Luard, one of the food world's most entertaining and evocative writers, has travelled extensively throughout her life, meeting fascinating people, observing different cultures and uncovering extraordinary ingredients in unusual places. In this enchanting food memoir, she shares tales and dishes gathered from her global ramblings.

 

With refreshing honesty and warmth, she recounts anecdotes of the many places she has visited: scouring for snails in Crete, sampling exotic spices in Ethiopia and tasting pampered oysters in Tasmania. She describes encounters with a cellarer-in-chief and a mushroom-king, and explains why stress is good news for fruit and vegetables, and how to spot a truffle lurking under an oak tree. 

 

Divided into four landscapes – rivers, islands, deserts and forests – Elisabeth's stories are coupled with more than fifty authentic recipes, each one a reflection of its unique place of origin, including Boston bean-pot, Hawaiian poke, Cretan bouboutie, mung-bean roti, roasted buttered coffee beans, Anzac biscuits and Sardinian lemon macaroons. 

 

Illustrated with Elisabeth's own sketches, Squirrel Pie will appeal to anyone with a taste for travel, and an affinity for that most universal of languages, food.

Station To Station: Searching for Stories On The Great Western Line by James Attlee

The line from London to Bristol connects two great cities, but what lies in between? 

 

London’s western suburbs, the Thames Valley, acres of farmland punctuated by provincial towns; where is the interest in such a landscape? To his surprise, James Attlee – a regular traveller on the route – finds it rich in unexpected encounters and the line awash with ghosts, including those of Charles I, Oscar Wilde, Lawrence of Arabia, the Beautiful Spotted Boy, Haile Selassie, Stanley Spencer, Diana Dors, Eddie Cochran and the creator of the line himself, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 

 

But this is not another nostalgic book about ‘heritage’ England. As Britain embarks on the greatest period of rail construction since the nineteenth century, trains are once more seen as the future, not the past. Part voyage of exploration, part history, part meditation on the nature of travel, Station to Station takes the reader on a journey into the psyche of a nation, along one of its most iconic lines. 

The Hills of Wales by Jim Perrin

The hills of Wales have haunted Jim Perrin for six decades. And they continue to do so still, inexhaustibly, always offering new perspectives, moods and experiences.

 

This book records forays into both famed and forgotten upland taking in Cader Idris and the Carneddau, Corndon Hill and the Berwyn, Pumlumon Fawr and the little hills of Llŷn, and so many others.

 

They are accounts of personal explorations, journeyings and encounters, each fragment and footstep combining to form a peripatetic literary celebration.

 

"As with the companion volume on Snowdon, what I want to show is the cultural distinctiveness of these hills, as well as their aesthetic dimension and their physical presence." Jim Perrin

White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World by Geoff Dyer

From one of Britain's most original writers, White Sands is a creative exploration of why we travel. 

 

Episodic, wide-ranging, funny and smart, the linked journeys recall the themes of Dyer's Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It - albeit with the wisdom of (middle) age.

 

From a trip to the Lightning Field in New Mexico, to chasing Gauguin's ghost in French Polynesia, from falling for someone who may or may not be a tour guide in Beijing's Forbidden City, to tracking down the house of an intellectual hero in Los Angeles, Dyer pursues all permutations of the peak experience including the trough experience.

 

In his trademark style he blends travel writing, essay, criticism and fiction with a smart and cantankerous wit that is unmatched. This is a book for armchair travellers and procrastinating philosophers everywhere.

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© 2019 Edward Stanford Limited