The shortlists for the 2019 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards have been announced and contain an eclectic mix of writing from around the globe. This year we have introduced a new award Travel Memoir of the Year. Here are the full shortlists:
Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year
Titles have been selected in this category for their innovative and/or literary merit with content which is relevant, useful or inspiring to travellers:
Ottoman Odyssey by Alev Scott (Riverrun, Quercus)
Faced by questions of exile, diaspora and collective memory, Alev Scott searches for answers from the cafes of Beirut to the refugee camps of Lesbos. She uncovers in Erdogan’s nouveau-Ottoman Turkey a version of the nostalgic utopias sold to disillusioned voters in Europe and the U.S. And yet – as she relates with compassion, insight and humour – diversity is the enduring, endangered heart of this fascinating region.
Lights in the Distance by Daniel Trilling (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
In Lights in the Distance, acclaimed journalist Daniel Trilling draws on years of reporting to build a portrait of the refugee crisis, seen through the eyes of the people who experienced it first-hand.
The Rhine: Following Europe’s Greatest River from Amsterdam to the Alps by Ben Coates (Nicholas Brealey Publishing)
In The Rhine, Ben Coates sets out by bicycle from the Netherlands where it enters the North Sea, following it through Germany, France and Liechtenstein, to its source in the icy Alps. He explores the impact that the Rhine has had on European culture and history and finds out how influences have flowed along and across the river, shaping the people who live alongside it.
Dancing Bears: True Stories about Longing for the Old Days by Witold Szablowski (Text Publishing)
With a keen eye for the unusual and the ironic, Szablowski takes us from eastern Europe to London, Greece, and Cuba, uncovering the stories of people whose lives haven’t quite caught up with their countries’ political turns: the women who take care of Stalin’s childhood home in Georgia; the man who feigned being a healer to escape war crime accusations in Serbia; the villagers who turned their homes into hobbit holes for tourism in Poland.
The Stopping Places by Damian Le Bas (Chatto & Windus)
In a bid to better understand his Gypsy heritage, the history of the Britain’s Romanies and the rhythms of their life today, Le Bas sets out on a journey to discover the old encampment sites known only to Travellers. Through winter frosts and summer dawns, from horse fairs to Gypsy churches, neon-lit lay-bys to fern-covered banks, Damian lives on the road, somewhere between the romanticised Gypsies of old, and their much-maligned descendants of today.
The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places by William Atkins (Faber & Faber)
Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter and Australia’s nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and ‘sand seas’ of China’s volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.
Fiction, with a Sense of Place
These shortlisted fictional novels (populist or literary) have been selected for their highly developed and integral sense of a real location interwoven within the plot or narrative:
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Oneworld)
In this epic tale of fate, fortune and legacy, Jennifer Makumbi vibrantly brings to life this corner of Africa and this colourful family as she reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (Granta Publications)
Keiko has never really fitted in. At school and university people find her odd and her family worries she’ll never be normal. To appease them, Keiko takes a job at a newly opened convenience store. Here, she finds peace and purpose in the simple, daily tasks and routine interactions. But in Keiko’s social circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend all her time stacking shelves and re-ordering green tea. As pressure mounts on Keiko to find either a new job, or worse, a husband, she is forced to take desperate action…
Ponti by Sharlene Teo (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Told from the perspectives of three women, Ponti by Sharlene Teo is an exquisite story of friendship and memory spanning decades. Infused with mythology and modernity, with the rich sticky heat of Singapore, it is at once an astounding portrayal of the gaping loneliness of teenagehood, and a vivid exploration of how tragedy can make monsters of us.
The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida (Faber & Faber)
1923, north-eastern Italy: Maria Vittoria’s father has left the village to find her a husband. He has taken his mule, a pack of food and a photograph of Maria. There are no eligible men in this valley, or the next one, and her father will not allow her to marry just anyone. Just as Fascism blooms in the country, the crops ripen, and the state demands babies – a new generation. There is much work to be done, and Maria faces a stony path, but one she will surely climb to the summit.
Woman At Sea by Catherine Poulain (Jonathan Cape)
Lili is a runaway. She’s left behind her native France to go in search of freedom, of adventure, of life. Her search takes her to Kodiak, Alaska, home to a ragtag community of fishermen, army vets and drifters who man the island’s fishing fleet. Despite her tiny frame, faltering English and lack of experience, Lili lands a job on board the Rebel, the only woman on the boat. The terrifying intensity of the ocean is addictive to the point of danger. But Lili is not alone: in her fellow crewmembers she finds kindred spirits – men living on the edge, drawn to extremes.
House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (Atlantic Books)
Bukhosi has gone missing. His father, Abed, and his mother, Agnes, cling to the hope that he has run away, rather than been murdered by government thugs. Only the lodger seems to have any idea. Zamani has lived in the spare room for years now. Quiet, polite, well-read and well-heeled, he’s almost part of the family – but almost isn’t quite good enough for Zamani. Cajoling, coaxing and coercing Abed and Agnes into revealing their sometimes tender, often brutal life stories, Zamani aims to steep himself in borrowed family history, so that he can fully inherit and inhabit its uncertain future.
Lonely Planet Adventure Travel Book of the Year
This award will go to an author of an accessible non-fiction book, describing an individual’s personal adventure or recounting an historical life or expedition:
The Secret Surfer by Iain Gately (Head of Zeus)
Recovering from a hip replacement operation, and suffering from a mid-life crisis, Iain Gately sets out to catch a tube. This is no London underground train, but rather that evanescent space, beneath the lip of a breaking wave, that every surfer yearns to visit. His quest takes him to the Atlantic beaches of England’s West Country, and to the sandbars and reefs of Galicia and the Canary Island. By turns funny, energetic and inspiring, The Secret Surfer is a tale of self-knowledge through endeavour, a beguiling blend of black humour, adventure and soul searching.
Kings of the Yukon by Adam Weymouth (Particular, Penguin Press)
The Yukon River is almost 2,000 miles long, flowing through Canada and Alaska to the Bering Sea. Setting out to explore one of the most ruggedly beautiful and remote regions of North America, Adam Weymouth journeyed by canoe on a four-month odyssey through this untrammelled wilderness, encountering the people who have lived there for generations. The Yukon’s inhabitants have long depended on the king salmon who each year migrate the entire river to reach their spawning grounds. Now the salmon numbers have dwindled, and the encroachment of the modern world has changed the way of life on the Yukon, perhaps for ever.
Up by Ben Fogle and Marina Fogle (HarperCollins)
Part memoir, part thrilling adventure, Ben and Marina’s account of his ascent to the roof of the world is told with their signature humour and warmth, as well as with profound compassion.
Arabia by Levison Wood (Hodder & Stoughton)
Following in the footsteps of great explorers such as Lawrence of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger, Arabia is Levison Wood’s account of his most complex expedition yet: circumnavigating the Arabian Peninsula. Travelling through some of the harshest and most beautiful environments on earth, he seeks to challenge our perceptions of an often misunderstood part of the world, seeing how the region has changed and examining the stories we don’t often hear about in the media.
Around the World in 80 Days: My World Record Breaking Adventure by Mark Beaumont (Bantam Press)
Mark Beaumont begins his journey in Paris and cycles through Europe, Russia, Mongolia and China. He then crosses Australia, rides up through New Zealand and across North America before the final ‘sprint finish’ thorough Portugal, Spain and France, all at over 200 miles a day. This is the story of a quite remarkable adventure, by a quite remarkable man.
Me, My Bike and a Street Dog Called Lucy by Ishbel Holmes (Bradt Travel Guides)
This heart-rending tale is about more than just the relationship between a woman and her dog. It is a testimony to the human spirit, overcoming present-day challenges and churning up long-buried and painful memories from Ishbel’s earlier life. It is also a tale of adventure, one person’s determination to cross an unfamiliar country by bike and the unforgettable scenes that greet her on the Turkey-Syria border and into Syria itself.
Ordnance Survey Children’s Travel Book of the Year
These fiction or non-fiction title for pre-teens have been selected as they inspires a love of travel, exploration and adventure:
Destination: Planet Earth by Jo Nelson, illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole (Wide Eye Editions, Quarto)
Set out on an adventure across Planet Earth, exploring volcanos, valleys, mountains and rivers, and learning about water, weather and earthquakes as you go. This is the ultimate field trip to explore our incredible planet, from its smoking volcanos and coursing rivers to its tallest mountains and deepest valleys. Packed with epic facts and breathtaking illustrations, this journey of discovery is the perfect introduction to physical geography in all forms: learn about weather and climate, see how the water cycle works and explore the science behind Earth’s earthquakes, eruptions and tsunamis.
Alastair Humphreys’ Great Adventurers by Alastair Humphreys, illustrated by Kevin Ward (Big Picture Press, Bonnier)
Hand-selected by Alastair Humphreys, read about the incredible journeys undertaken by twenty of the most heroic and impressive explorers who ever lived, including Ibn Battuta (14th-century explorer); Apsley Cherry-Garrard (a member of Scott’s Antarctic expedition); Michael Collins (Apollo Moon mission astronaut) and Nellie Bly (who travelled round the world in less than 80 days).
Explorers on Witch Mountain by Alex Bell (Faber & Faber)
Stella Starflake Pearl is eagerly anticipating her next expedition. Suddenly disaster strikes when Stella’s father, Felix, is snatched by a fearsome witch. Stella must bring her magic ice princess tiara to Witch Mountain or she will never see Felix again! But no one ever returns from Witch Mountain . . .Stella, Ethan, Shay, Beanie and reluctant Jungle Cat explorer, Gideon, set off into the unknown. They will face chomping pumpkin patches, vampire trolls, poisonous rabbits, outraged vultures and deranged broomsticks in their quest to rescue Felix.
Atlas of Adventures: Wonders of the World by Ben Handicott, illustrated by Lucy Letherland (Wide Eye Editions, Quarto)
From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes this awe-inspiring journey of discovery. Travel around the world to scale the Eiffel Tower, trek the Great Wall of China, and raft through the Yosemite Valley. Showcasing the globe’s most impressive landscapes, iconic buildings and evocative antiquities from both the modern and ancient worlds, this is the most wonderful Atlas adventure yet!
Journeys by Jonathan Litton, illustrated by Leo Hartas, Chris Chalik, Jon David and David Shephard (360 Degrees, Little Tiger Group)
Read your way around the world with some of history’s greatest storymakers. As well as the usual suspects, explore some lesser-known but equally amazing journeys, including that of Nobu Shirase – who raced Scott and Amundsen to the South Pole – and Henry “Box” Brown – a slave who posted himself to freedom.
Maps of the United Kingdom by Rachel Dixon and Livi Gosling (Wide Eye Editions, Quarto)
Take a tour of the United Kingdom as you’ve never seen it before in this fully illustrated set of county maps. Travel through England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and meet the incredible people born there, learn about its proud history, and discover ancient castles, modern feats of engineering and natural highlights while you revel in the nation’s curiosities, from the spectacular, to the quirky, to the downright strange! A fabulous introduction to Shakespeare’s Sceptre Isle, for readers young and old.
Photography and Illustrated Travel Book of the Year
This award is for a book of photography, illustrations, maps or infographics relating to travel, adventure or world cultures. Focused either on a single location or the entire World, with limited accompanying text:
The Writer’s Map by Huw Lewis- Jones (Thames and Hudson)
This is an atlas of the journeys that writers make, encompassing not only the maps that actually appear in their books, but also the many maps that have inspired them and the sketches that they use in writing. For some, making a map is absolutely central to the craft of shaping and telling their tale. A writer’s map might mean also the geographies they describe, the worlds inside books that rise from the page, mapped or unmapped, and the realms that authors inhabit as they write.
The Hidden Tracks by Cam Honan (Gestalten)
From a magic trail leading through a forest of giant trees and breathtaking mountain ascents in South America to a trek among some of the highest sand dunes in the world in Mongolia, this selection of one-of-a-kind trails is presented with stunning imagery, detailed trail descriptions, overview maps, and insider advice on how to make the most of each trip. The book is both a visual journey and an invitation to pack your hiking boots and discover untouched hiking destinations.
Wonders by Rhonda Rubinstein and California Academy of Sciences (Chronicle Books)
This breathtaking collection of nature photography reveals rare creatures, transports us to distant landscapes, and captures uncommon moments of drama and beauty in the natural world. With more than 100 photographs and captions explaining the scientific phenomena and photographic techniques behind each picture, this book will captivate nature lovers, science enthusiasts, photographers, and adventurers.
Maps of London and Beyond: Adam Dant, foreword by The Gentle Author (Pavilion Books)
Artist and cartographer Adam Dant surveys London’s past, present and future from his studio in the East End. Beautiful, witty and subversive, his astonishing maps offer a compelling view of history, lore, language and life in the capital and beyond.
Escape by Bike by Joshua Cunningham (Thames and Hudson)
Cycling writer and photographer Joshua Cunningham spent eleven months cycling from London to Hong Kong, a journey that spanned twenty-six countries and 22,000 kilometres (13,670 miles). During his journey, he captured thousands of photographs of the landscapes, many barely touched by humans, and acquired a wealth of invaluable experience, from arranging travel and selecting the best bike to what to pack for each climate and terrain, and how to choose and navigate your route.
The Golden Atlas by Edward Brooke-Hitching (Simon & Schuster)
The Golden Atlas is a spectacular visual history of exploration and cartography, a treasure chest of adventures from the chronicles of global discovery, illustrated with a selection of the most beautiful maps ever created.
Travel Food and Drink Book of the Year
A shortlist of cookbooks or non-fiction food writing focussed on a particular national cuisine or telling of food related exploration/travel which capture a true sense of the place’s identity and culture:
Pasta, Pane, Vino by Matt Goulding (Hardie Grant)
The book celebrates the breadth and beauty of Italian food, culture, and history part detailed user s guide, part moving love letter to a country where eating is an art. A blend of intimate narrative and insider knowledge, Pasta, Pane, Vino is a unique culinary journey through Italy’s key regions.
Copenhagen Food by Trine Hahnemann, Photography by Columbus Leth (Quadrille, Hardie Grant)
Trine takes us on a tour of her home town, introducing us to all the best spots to eat, drink, and catch up with friends. We learn about the old bakeries and food markets, the burgeoning street food scene, the coffee culture, and the world-famous restaurants – and along the way, Trine will offer 70 recipes for some of her very favourite dishes.
Shetland by James & Tom Morton, Photography by Andy Sewell (Quadrille, Hardie Grant)
Shetland: Cooking on the Edge of the World explores life on an island with food, drink and community at its heart. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters, Shetland seafood is second to none. The native sheep roam freely. Here cooks, farmers, crofters and fishermen toil following traditions that go back hundreds of years.
Black Sea by Caroline Eden (Quadrille, Hardie Grant)
With a nose for a good recipe and an ear for an extraordinary story, Caroline Eden travels from Odessa to Bessarabia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey’s Black Sea region, exploring interconnecting culinary cultures. From the Jewish table of Odessa, to meeting the last fisherwoman of Bulgaria and charting the legacies of the White Russian emigres in Istanbul, Caroline gives readers a unique insight into a part of the world that is both shaded by darkness and illuminated by light.
Nightingales and Roses by Maryam Sinaiee (Head of Zeus)
Nightingales and Roses offers you a true taste of Persian home cooking. Iranian food blogger and cook, Maryam Sinaiee, takes us through a full year in the Persian kitchen, explaining the stories and traditions behind each delicious dish.
Khazana by Saliha Mahmood Ahmed (Hodder & Stoughton)
Travel Memoir of the Year
This is a new category for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. These books give accounts of some extraordinary lives and the travels that moulded them.
The Crossway by Guy Stagg (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
In 2013 Guy Stagg made a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem. Though a non-believer, he began the journey after suffering several years of mental illness, hoping the ritual would heal him. For ten months he hiked alone on ancient paths, crossing ten countries and more than 5,500 kilometres. The Crossway is an account of this extraordinary adventure.
Step By Step: Simon Reeve (Hodder & Stoughton)
In this revelatory account of his life Simon gives the full story behind some of his favourite expeditions, and traces his own inspiring personal journey back to leaving school without qualifications, teetering on a bridge, and then overcoming his challenges by climbing to a ‘Lost Valley’ and changing his life … step by step.
Thinking on my Feet by Kate Humble (Aster, Octopus Books)
Thinking on My Feet tells the story of Kate’s walking year – shining a light on the benefits of this simple activity. Kate’s inspiring narrative not only records her walks (and runs) throughout a single year, but also charts her feelings and impressions throughout – capturing the perspectives that only a journey on foot allows – and shares the outcomes: a problem solved, a mood lifted, an idea or opportunity borne. As she explores the reasons why we walk, whether for creative energy, challenge and pleasure, or therapeutic benefits, Kate’s reflections and insights will encourage, motivate and spur readers into action.
In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum (Chatto & Windus)
Written by fellow foreign correspondent Lindsey Hilsum, this is the story of the most daring war reporter of her time. Drawing on unpublished diaries and interviews with Marie’s friends, family and colleagues, Hilsum conjures a fiercely compassionate, complex woman who was driven to an extraordinary life and tragic death. In Extremis is the story of our turbulent age, and the life of a woman who defied convention.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Michael Joseph)
The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.
Skybound by Rebecca Loncraine (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Taking in the history of unpowered flight, and with extraordinary descriptions of flying in some of the world’s most dangerous and dramatic locations, this is a nature memoir with a unique perspective; it is about the land we know and the sky we know so little of, it is about memory and self-discovery.
Bradt Travel Guides New Travel Writer of the Year
First prize for the Bradt Travel Guides New Travel Writer of the Year award is a fantastic three-night winter break for two in Lapland at the Wilderness Hotel Inari, courtesy of Wexas, and a commission to write an article about the prize trip for publication in Wexas’ Traveller magazine. All four finalists win a place on the next Bradt Travel Writing Seminar (run in conjunction with Travellers’ Tales, the UK’s leading training agency for aspiring travel writers).
• ‘Breathtaking Bryce’ by Moira Ashley
• ‘Reflections of Dubai’ by Celia Dillow
• ‘Through the Blue’ by Hannah Doyle
• ‘Unexpected Sunlight’ by Amanda Huggins
The winners and the recipient of the Edward Stanford Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing will be announced on the 28th February 2019.