9781862075078 / 1862075077

Desert Divers


Publisher:Granta UK



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About the book:

Sven Lindqvist's Desert Divers is ostensibly about the powerful hold of the Sahara desert on the western psyche and the way the desert's stark, weird, sun-crushed loneliness has chimed with the metropolitan westerner's desire for spiritual solitude and questing adventure. It also manages to be a memoir of one man's troubled youth, a dissertation on the tragicomic aspects of colonialism and a piece of finely-honed continental lit crit--all in less than 150 pages. The author is a distinguished Swedish gentleman of letters (he's the author of the much-praised Exterminate all the Brutes and it's his background in Scandinavia that provides the autobiographical element, the wistful, nostalgic sub-plot. Woven around these poignant glimpses of a lonely northern childhood is the travelogue: a lovingly written impression of life in the Algerian and Moroccan sand-dunes, juxtaposing hi-tech Saudi falconers with traditional Bedouin tribesmen, the ancient trade in date-fruits with the newer commerce of oil. Finally, set above these interlinked strands, comes Lindqvist's learned literary disquisition on other great and/or famous Saharan writer-travellers, like Antoine de Saint Exupery and Andre Gide, as well as more recherché desert-specialists like the Sahara-obsessed Swede Thorsten Orre. Desert Divers is an odd book, but also quietly beautiful, gently moving, and not unlike W.G.Sebald's The Rings Of Saturn in its pensive, meandering, slightly Nordic moodiness. --Sean Thomas

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