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.
Top Reads 2021
‘It’s no good joining an existing cult, you have to start one yourself.’
A short story by Japanese author Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, who also brought us Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings.
Have You Met Husband?
‘The oysters were her idea, a way of catching me off guard. I accidentally said yes.’
A story by Amy Silverberg.
‘I often had head lice as a child.’
Memoir by A.K. Blakemore, author of The Manningtree Witches.
A Bleed of Blue
‘I was trying simultaneously to numb the grief I felt and to burrow into that grief, so I could stand in it.’
On love, its absence and Joni Mitchell’s Blue album.
‘I want the poem to destroy time. / What are the ceremonies of forgetting?’
Nick Laird’s elegy for his father, Alastair Laird, who died of Covid-19.