Source: The Daily Telegraph
A long list of 12 works has been unveiled for the 2012 Dolman Travel Book of the Year.
Among this year’s judges is Rachel Polonsky, whose book Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History (Faber, 2010) won the 2011 prize.
She will be joined on the judging panel by Chris Moss, a regular contributer to Telegraph Travel, Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet, Susie Dowdall, books editor at the Daily Mail, and Sarah Spankie, deputy editor of CondeNast Traveller.
They will be choosing from the following books:
Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge (published by Profile), by John Gimlette, who also features regularly on the pages of Telegraph Travel. The author heads deep into the jungle between the Orinoco and the Amazon in what is one of the Earth’s forgotten corners, taking in remote villages and the hideouts of runaway slaves.
Harlem is Nowhere, by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Granta), about her experiences in the New York borough.
Melanie Challenger’s On Extinction (Granta), which features journeys through landscapes haunted by extinction, such as ruined tin mines in Cornwall and abandoned whaling stations in South Georgia.
Street Fight in Naples (Bloomsbury), by Peter Robb, an Australian who recalls the colourful characters he met while living in the Italian city during the Eighties.
The Fetish Room: The Education of a Naturalist by Redmond O’Hanlon (Profile), part biography, part musings as the eccentric writer visits places from his dark childhood.
Thin Paths: Journeys in and Around an Italian Mountain Village (Jonathan Cape), by Julia Blackburn, who was also short listed for the 2011 Costa Biography Award and the 2012 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. This effort follows the author and her husband in the villages of northern Italy.
To a Mountain in Tibet (Vintage), one of Colin Thubron’s most personal books, which follows his journey to Mount Kailas – close to the borders with Nepal and India. Thubron reveals his need to make the pilgrimage after deaths in his family left him the only surviving member.
Her first book, Olivia Laing’s To The River (Canongate) is a biography of a waterway, as she follows the River Ouse from its tributaries as they rise in the Sussex Downs and flow to the coast.
Exploring a land somewhat further afield is Jacek Hugo-Bader with White Fever: A Journey to the Frozen Heart of Siberia (Portobello), in which, as a 50th birthday present to himself, he sets out to drive from Moscow to Vladivostok, across a land that is slowly dying and populated by the homeless and the hopeless.
“We have produced a very interesting long list, with well known writers (Colin Thubron and Redmond O’Hanlon) and first timers, cities (New York’s Harlem and Naples) and country,” said Tony Wheeler, 2012 chairman of judges.
“Personally I’m pleased to see there are so many walking books (A Mountain in Tibet and Thin Paths) and that we’ve ventured into some little known (or little written about) corners of the world. Wild Coast is certainly introducing me to those three South American Guianas.”
The prize looks for works of literary merit that show excellence in the tradition of great travel writing, combining a personal journey with the discovery or recovery of places, landscapes or peoples to instil a sense of place, excitement and wonder in the reader.
A short list will be confirmed in early August, and the winner will be announced on September 5.