Sunday, April 3, 2011

What the Traveler Saw: Colin Thubron

There are a few authors I want to spotlight on my bookshelf because their work is consistently rewarding.  Colin Thubron is one.  His trilogy of books on China, Siberia and Central Asia, offer a portrait of Asia from the most remote desolate places in Siberia to the mysteries of China and the Silk Road.  He is especially good at finding out of the way places and conveying the sense of place through his powers of observation.  I listened to The Shadow of the Silk Road as an audio book, which may have been better in some ways since some of his descriptions sound like poetry.  I've written him to express appreciation for his books and received a hand written note back.  He has just come out with a new book, To a Mountain in Tibet.   

1.   Journey into Cyprus (1975).  Part of the Atlantic Traveler Series.  Bought at Warrenton used book store. 

2.  Where Nights are Longest: Travels by Car Through Western Russia (1983).  His 10,000 mile journey through western Russia.  Some of his passages have been described as hallucingenic.  Bought at Dog-Eared books, Northport, Michigan. 

3.  Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China (1987).  Maybe the most dated of Thubron's books on my shelf, he traveled China in the 1980's starting from one end of the Great Wall to the other end.  Part of Atlantic Traveler Series.  Bought used at State Department book store.

4.  In Siberia (1999).  Maybe the most haunting book for me.  He provides awe-inspiring desolation in traveling to the towns, settlements and gulags.  Bought new.

In Siberia

5.  The Heart of Central Asia (1994).  The third in his Asia trilogy, he journeys west of China and south of Russia to the five isolated and newly independent central Asian republics: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.  Bought new. 

The Lost Heart of Asia (P.S.)

6.  Shadow of the Silk Road, (2008).  Thubron's most ambitious and arduous of all his 40 years of travels.  Maybe the first contemporary account of someone following the length of the Silk Road from east to west.  From the perspective of the outsider, conveys the strangeness of these lands.  Bought  as an audio book. 

Shadow of the Silk Road (P.S.)

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