Far & Away: How Travel Can Change the World
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.