Desert Pilgrims – Journeys in the World’s Driest Places
WHAT: “Desert Pilgrims – Journeys in the World’s Driest Places,” an RASBJ online conversation with author William Atkins derived from his award-winning book The Immeasurable World, moderated by Rianka Mohan, followed by Q&A.
WHEN: October 20, Wednesday, 7:00-8:00 PM Beijing Time (online)
HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT ON ZOOM:
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MORE ABOUT THE EVENT:
“This it seemed was the ultimate objective of every desert traveller: the axis where the absolute co-exists with the infinite.”
William Atkins spent three years travelling through five continents to six of the world’s driest, hottest places: the Empty Quarter of Oman, the Great Victoria Desert of Australia, the man-made desert of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, the Black Rock and Sonoran Deserts of the American Southwest, the Sinai Desert of Egypt, and the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts of North China. The narrative that emerges, in the classic literary tradition of Bruce Chatwin and Geoff Dyer, is a rich and exquisitely written account that evokes the timeless allure of these remote and forbidding places.
In this conversation, William and Rianka will discuss some of those journeys, with a particular focus on the Taklamakan, and on others who have travelled in that vast desert over the centuries, from Xuanzang to Mildred Cable and Aurel Stein. They will also discuss what the desert, as an idea, has meant to humankind, both as a realm of sanctuary and liberation, and as a place where our darker impulses can play out without witnesses or judgement.
MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
William Atkins is the author of The Immeasurable World: A Desert Journey, which won the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award, and The Moor, a book about England’s moorlands. He is a contributor to the Guardian, the New York Times and Harper’s, and guest editor of Granta’s forthcoming travel-writing special issue.
MORE ABOUT THE MODERATOR:
Rianka Mohan has moderated panels at the EU-China Literature Festival, the Neilson Hays Festival, and other literary events. She grew up in Oman, so she is looking forward to revisiting the desert landscape with such an esteemed author as her guide.