The Hippie Trail: A History by Sharif Gemie and Brian Ireland is a rollicking and riveting read, chock-full of vivid anecdotes and insights. It is perfect for armchair travellers dreaming of happier times. How gentrified and commodified the world seems today!
“You can’t trust anybody who’s wearing a tie,” Jefferson Airplane
Gemie travelled the trail himself – so he has a lived experience of the journey, not an escapist fantasy. He and his co-author appraise the broader social and political context, alongside the psychological and cultural worlds of the famously hirsute travellers. The resulting narrative is a blend of analysis and dialogues with eighty authors and interviewees who went on the trail in the late 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s on a quest for adventure, spirituality and escape from monotony, ending up – though not always – in Nepal. By the 1970s, Kathmandu was known as “the Benidorm of the dope trail”. (p. 104)
Rosa’s Bus by Fabrizio Silei, who refers to himself as a “researcher of human stories and events”, is a perfect early learning book for children from the age of seven upwards. Beautifully illustrated by Maurizio A. C. Quarello, and sensitively translated from the Italian by Siân Williams, it is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
What does Grandpa want to show Ben?
Why is Ben being told such a scary story about men in white hoods with eyeholes?
What happened to the dignified lady taken off the bus in handcuffs like a criminal?
Why did her one action and the protest that followed change history?
This welcome collection contains twenty-seven short stories by six influential Spanish women writers, written over the past one hundred and twenty years. The translations are fluent and easily readable, the editing ‘light-touch’ and unobtrusive.
One surprising feature of the stories is the constancy of the themes they address. The stories concentrate on marginalized, frustrated women, their lives stunted by male prejudice and violence. While the formats change, the key issues remain.
A prolific and acclaimed writer in his Italian homeland, Erri De Luca’s thought-provoking, philosophical investigation builds in suspense ending with an emotional bomb. Although a work of fiction, to what extent Impossible is inspired by his actual experiences of being sued for an alleged incitement to sabotage to the Lyon-Turin high speed train line on environmental grounds is open for debate. (De Luca was cleared on 19 October 2015 when a not-guilty verdict was pronounced.)
A senator from the centre-left Democratic party supportive of the high speed train line, referred to De Luca as being a relic of the ‘years of lead’, the restless political period of the 1970s-‘80s when left-and-right-wing activists carried out numerous violent attacks, including the abduction and murder of former Prime Minister, Aldo Moro.
Madan Lal Dhingra’s great niece, Leena Dhingra, unravels the life and death of an Indian revolutionary in this haunting work that is part history, part memoir.
What was the largest movement of people in history? In 1923, over a million and a half Greeks and Turks were forcibly ‘exchanged’ as part of the Lausanne Convention. In May and June 1940, about eight million people from the Netherlands, Belgium and France fled from the blitzkrieg advance of the German army. But the sorry prize for the largest movement of people must go to the 1947 Partition of India. Seventy-five years ago, up to twenty million people travelled between the newly-created states of India and Pakistan, crossing the border formed by arbitrary political considerations in the last days of the British Raj. Partition was a distressing, painful and bloody process: estimates circulate that something like two million never arrived at their chosen destination.Continue reading Guest Review | Sharif Gemie | Exhumation: the Life and Death of Madan Lal Dhingra, Leena Dhingra | Hope Road Publishing