Personal Landscapes
Rebecca Lowe: Cycling through the Middle East’s fractured mosaic

Rebecca Lowe: Cycling through the Middle East’s fractured mosaic

July 26, 2022

In 2015, Rebecca Lowe set out on a year long cycling trip from London to Tehran, a journey that revealed a splintered mosaic of cultures, countries and languages, each with their own unique traditions. We talked about the Arab Spring, the promise of Sudan, and the stark cultural divides within cosmopolitan Iran.

Martha Gellhorn: with biographer Caroline Moorehead

Martha Gellhorn: with biographer Caroline Moorehead

May 27, 2022

Martha Gellhorn wanted to be known as a novelist. Instead, she’s remembered as one of the 20th century’s greatest war correspondents. She wrote about what war does to ordinary people, and the despair of those who have lost everything. Biographer Caroline Moorehead joins me to talk about this remarkable woman.

Guy Kennaway: Life in a Jamaican village

Guy Kennaway: Life in a Jamaican village

May 13, 2022

One People is a comic novel but Cousins Cove is a real village, and the stories Guy Kennaway tells were gathered during his first ten years as an idle British expat. We spoke about Jamaican culture, the legacy of slavery, and why he’s a passionate advocate for Patwa, the national language.

 

Sophie Haydock: Egon Schiele and fin de siècle Vienna

Sophie Haydock: Egon Schiele and fin de siècle Vienna

March 12, 2022

Turn-of-the-century Vienna was a cultural crucible where the air seethed with repressed desire. No artist captured this more vividly than Egon Schiele. Sophie Haydock imagines herself into his world in her debut novel The Flames.

Carole Angier: The strange world of W.G. Sebald

Carole Angier: The strange world of W.G. Sebald

February 20, 2022

W.G. Sebald has been described as “a writer of almost unclassifiable originality”. He wrote about the plight of emigrants, and in particular, emigrants from the Holocaust. His obsessions included survivor’s guilt, the nature of decline and fall, loss and decay, and the downward plunge of nature and history. I discussed Sebald's life and work with his biographer Carole Angier. 

David Eimer: Cultural survival in China’s borderlands

David Eimer: Cultural survival in China’s borderlands

January 29, 2022

David Eimer is the author of the critically acclaimed The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China. We spoke about that country's tumultuous border regions, and how different ethnic minorities have tried to keep their culture alive beneath the Han yoke.

Dervla Murphy: Reflections on a lifetime of travel

Dervla Murphy: Reflections on a lifetime of travel

December 9, 2021

Dervla Murphy has been described as a ‘travel legend’ and ‘the first lady of Irish cycling’. For five decades she’s travelled the world in a series of truly remarkable journeys, mostly alone and mostly on foot. I had the great fortune to speak with her a week after her 90th birthday. We talked about the loss of traditional cultures, travel in the pre-internet age, and the general state of the world.

Nigel Barley: The Innocent Anthropologist

Nigel Barley: The Innocent Anthropologist

October 1, 2021

Nigel Barley wrote one of the funniest travel books I've ever read, and it nearly got him kicked out of his academic discipline. We spoke about the grim reality of fieldwork, his odd attraction for monkeys, and why fiction tells us more than anthropology about what it means to be human.

Jeremy Seal: Modern Turkey and the 1960 coup

Jeremy Seal: Modern Turkey and the 1960 coup

August 18, 2021

Jeremy Seal is the author of six books, including A Fez of the Heart. We spoke about the infinite courtesies of Turkish hospitality, cultural divides, and the legacy of the 1960 military coup.

John Gimlette: Madagascar, and ‘walking the dead’

John Gimlette: Madagascar, and ‘walking the dead’

August 5, 2021

John Gimlette is the author of five books, including The Gardens of Mars. We spoke about Madagascar, ‘walking the dead’, and writing about places on the margin of the map.

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