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Fritz Agency
Published by
House of Anansi Press (February 2023)
Current material
E-Galley
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STRANGE BEWILDERING TIME

Istanbul to Kathmandu in the Last Year of the Hippie Trail

by Abley, Mark

In the spring of 1978, at age twenty-two, Mark Abley put aside his studies at Oxford and set off with a friend on a three-month trek across the celebrated Hippie Trail - a sprawling route between Europe and South Asia, peppered with Western bohemians and vagabonds. It was a time when the Shah of Iran still reigned supreme, Afghanistan lay at peace, and city streets from Turkey to India teemed with unrest. Within a year, many of the places he visited would become inaccessible to foreign travellers.

Drawing from the tattered notebooks he filled as a youthful wanderer, Abley brings his kaleidoscope of experiences back to life with vivid detail: dancing in a Turkish disco, clambering across a glacier in Kashmir, travelling by train among Baluchi tribesmen who smuggled kitchen appliances over international borders. He also reflects on the impact of the Hippie Trail and the illusions of those who journeyed along it. The lively immediacy of Abley's journals combined with the measured wisdom of his mature, contemporary voice provides rich insight, bringing vibrant witness and historical perspective to this beautifully written portrait of a region during a time of irrevocable change.

While younger audiences may not have been as familiar with the Hippie Trail in recent years, that has definitely changed now as it has returned to popular interest with the Netflix drama series The Serpent, based on the true story of serial killer and fraudster Charles Sobhraj, who preyed on Western tourists travelling the hippie trail during the 1970s.

MARK ABLEY is a nonfiction writer, poet, and journalist. His many books include Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages (published in Canada with Random House, the US with HMH, and the UK with Heinemann); The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English (with the same publishers); and several poetry collections and children's books. His work has won international praise and has been translated into five languages. He lives in Montreal

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Fritz Agency
Antonia Fritz

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Comments

Learned, thought-provoking, bouncing with ideas, yet funny and wry, Abley's passion for his subjects is inspiring ... Brilliant and enjoyable.

Quote: The Independent

Hugely entertaining... Abley is brilliant.

Quote: The Times (London)

Gracefully written, funny and frequently heartbreaking.

Quote: The New York Times

A joy -- If you instinctively inveigh against blandness and uniformity, this is an essential read.

Quote: The Guardian

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