Justin Marozzi is a historian who has written a number of books about the Middle East and Muslim world. Gerald Hanley’s book Warriors helped him stay alive during a posting to Mogadishu as an advisor to the president. He won the 2015 RSL Ondaatje Prize with Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood.
Le Grand Meaulnes
A teenage boy hurtles through the frozen French countryside in the blackest night. Injured, exhausted and hungry, he stumbles into a crumbling old manor and has a fleeting, life-changing encounter with a beautiful girl who then suddenly vanishes. A gloriously adolescent fairytale set in the impenetrable depths of rural France whose dreamy landscapes Alain-Fournier evokes with painterly wonder.
An unusual and immensely powerful reflection on life in one of the most inhospitable regions in the world. Gerald Hanley was an Irishman who served in the British Army in Somalia in the 1940s, a posting that marked him for life. He offers an alternately humorous and disturbing examination of the psychological effects of prolonged cultural dislocation and profound isolation amid the desert furnace.
The Living Mountain
Recently rediscovered for a new audience after lying in a desk drawer for 33 years, The Living Mountain is a treasure trove for those with an interest in the natural world. This is mountaineering literature, but not as we know it, and thank goodness for that. The Cairngorms come to life in these pages in all their rambling, wind-scoured majesty. Highly original, minutely observed and all written in the most sparkling prose.
Leo the African
Based on the extraordinary wanderings of a sixteenth-century Muslim merchant, diplomat and traveller captured by pirates and converted to Christianity by Pope Leo X. This is a rich and sensuous picaresque fantasy in which Maalouf brilliantly conjures up the sights, sounds and smells of souks, palaces, desert caravans, slave ships and dungeons. It’s also a compelling meditation on the cultural bridges and barriers between East and West.