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An ambitious and magnificent new travelogue by bestselling and prize-winning author Erika Fatland (The Border and Sovietistan), on a journey along the Himalaya.
The Himalaya weave through five very different countries, where the world religions of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are mixed with ancient shamanic religions. Countless languages and vastly different cultures live in the secluded mountain valleys. Modernity and tradition collide, while the great powers fight for influence.
We have read about mountain climbers on their way up Mount Everest and about travellers on the spiritual quest for Buddhist monasteries. But how much do we know about the people living in the Himalaya? Fatland invites us into close encounters with the many peoples of the region, and at the same time takes us on a dizzying journey at altitude through incredible landscapes and dramatic, unknown world histories - all the way to the most volatile human conflicts of our times.
Erika Fatland studied Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and is the author of two previous books in Norwegian, The Village of Angels and The Year Without Summer, describing the year that followed the massacre on Utøya. She speaks eight languages and lives in Oslo with her husband.
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“Excellent. Fatland’s a superb reporter, with an engaging personality and boundless curiosity. The English versions of her books convey her immense vitality and charm. Ideal for armchair travelers, packed with information and entertaining anecdotes.” Michael Dirda The Washington Post
"The true allure of Ms. Fatland’s book lies in her ability to reach inside people’s homes and talk to women who lead sequestered lives, to penetrate the outer sanctum that separates Muslim women from a world that imperils female honor. As an outgoing 39-year-old woman, Ms. Fatland can have conversations that a man like Colin Thubron, celebrated for his writings on these parts, could scarcely have had." The Wall Street Journal
"Erika Fatland has written a masterpiece . . . Along the way Fatland has developed her own distinct approach to travel writing. She now writes better than Robert D Kaplan." Aftenposten (Norway)
“A hauntingly lyrical meditation to the contingencies of history. Ms. Fatland’s greatest gift, is listening…allowing the people she meets to reveal themselves in meticulously rendered dramatic monologues, capturing their tics, eccentricities, and detailed personal histories. Russianness gives way to humanity—but not a simplistic one.” The Wall Street Journal (Praise for The Border)
"An introduction to a deeply misunderstood part of the world…the complexity and beauty of this region are best represented when she goes back in time. Fatland has a level of access most outsiders would never have.” Gina Rae La Cerva The New York Times Book Review (Praise for Sovietistan)
“In this absorbing travelogue, Erika Fatland picks her way through five former Soviet satellite states, witnessing the social, economic, and environmental damage they’ve sustained.” Christian Science Monitor (Praise for Sovietistan)
“Fatland’s anecdotes are rich and revelatory… Sovietistan blends complex history with Fatland’s own clear-eyed reporting, the devastation of the Soviet era always in the background (and sometimes the foreground). With the Russian Bear once again on the move, she plumbs the high cost of dictatorships and the human yearning for self-determination. Sovietistan is a perspicacious, vital book about little-known places and real lives; it deserves a wide readership.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune (Praise for Sovietistan)