Far & Away: How Travel Can Change the World

The Guardian - Review - - Non-Fiction - Car­o­line Moore­head

by An­drew Solomon (Vin­tage, £12.99)

Solomon has vis­ited 83 of the world’s 196-odd coun­tries and Far & Away is a collection of ar­ti­cles writ­ten dur­ing al­most 30 years of wan­der­ing: look­ing, lis­ten­ing, try­ing to un­der­stand. As a re­porter, he taught him­self to move slowly, take time to get to know the peo­ple he met and to look at their worlds with­out haste or prej­u­dice. “Travel,” he writes, “makes you modest.” Solomon is an en­gag­ing guide – keen-eyed, self-re­flec­tive, shrewd, hu­mane – and th­ese ar­ti­cles have a pleas­ing pas­sion. Many of the 30 col­lected pieces, for which he pro­vides ex­plana­tory notes and up­dates, re­flect the cen­tral con­cerns of his life: art, men­tal health, gay rights and coun­tries in mo­men­tous times. Solomon calls him­self a “gen­er­al­ist, a col­lec­tor of ex­pe­ri­ences, and an ec­cen­tric one at that”. With­out travel, he says, there is no real un­der­stand­ing of “oth­er­ness”, and oth­er­ness in all its forms, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, men­tal and sex­ual, is what Solomon has spent his life ex­plor­ing.

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