What is travel writing? One of this magazine’s former editors, Bill Buford, described it as ‘pre-eminently a narrative told in the first person, authenticated by lived experience’ – a definition that appeared in Granta’s travel issue of 1984, around the time that the genre reached the height of its post-war literary fashion. Bill might have added that the narrative usually finds its focus in a journey, though not necessarily a long journey. Apsley Cherry-Garrard travelled nearly to the South Pole; George Orwell went to Lancashire.
Longreads for the Lockdown
Doctors, solitude and the stones within us – for fiction about isolation, it has to be Haruki Murakami. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin.
Plague Diary: March
‘Things have changed without seeking permission.’ A plague diary of this March, by Gonçalo M. Tavares, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
‘Our view of the morning’s entertainment was restricted by the width of the door frame.’ Bruce Chatwin writes about his imprisonment during a coup in Benin.
The Leech Barometer
‘A leech bodes this: you will, sooner or later, overflow yourself. ’ Rebecca Giggs on leeches and the borders of the human body.
The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror
‘Her eyes fluttered open and I felt like I was at the edge of the mouth of a cave, with every intention of jumping in.’ For pure escapism, lose yourself in the nineteenth-century Paris of Carmen Maria Machado.