Synopses & Reviews
"Unimprovable (and unstoppably readable)"
--Pico Iyer, Time
"Moving and elegant...A superb portrayal of the restless and randy travel writer brings us as close to his hidden heart as we're likely to get."
"Shakespeare's engrossing bio does exactly what Chatwin's fans have longed to do: get beneath the alluring but elusive quality of his persona and prose. [Grade]: 'A'"
"Immensely readable... Shakespeare portrays a man of colossal energies and intellect in perpetual conflict, whose life was a web of contradiction, controversy, and conundrum.... Shakespeare artfully synthesizes what could have been cacophonous voices into an impressively rendered and remarkably coherent portrait."
"Quite simply, one of the most beautifully written, painstakingly researched, and cleverly constructed biographies written this decade. Shakespeare has a quite extraordinary empathy for his subject, whom he portrays with humor, warmth, and an eye for telling detail, creating a book almost as original, intelligent, and observant as those by Chatwin himself."
--William Dalrymple, Literary Review (London)
Bruce Chatwin burst onto the literary landscape in 1977 with In Patagonia, which quickly became one of the most influential travel books of the twentieth century. The books that followed--The Viceroy of Ouidah, On the Black Hill, The Songlines, and Utz--confirmed his status as a major writer able to reinvent himself constantly. And the life he led successfully established him as one of the most charismatic and elusive literary figures of our time.
Beautiful to behold, charming, intelligent, a writer of exquisite prose, Chatwin was welcome in every society--from the most glamorous patrons of Sotheby's, where he held his first job, to the remote tribes of Africa. He was a thinker of striking originality, a reader of astonishing breadth and depth, and a mesmerizing storyteller. Salman Rushdie claimed that "he had the most erudite and possibly the most brilliant mind I ever came across."
And yet for all the adoration he received, when Chatwin died of AIDS in 1989, he died an enigma, a panoply of apparently conflicting identities. Married for twenty-three years to his American wife, Elizabeth, he was also an active homosexual. A socialite who loved to regale his rich and famous friends with uproariously funny stories about his travels and the people he met on them, he was at heart a single-minded loner who explored the limits of extreme solitude.
Award-winning novelist Nicholas Shakespeare spent eight years traveling across five continents in Chatwin's footsteps. He was given unrestricted access to Chatwin's private notebooks, diaries, and letters, and has gathered evidence from Chatwin's peers, his friends, his family, his hosts, his enemies, and his lovers. The result is this masterful biography, rendered in a graceful narrative that brilliantly leads us into Chatwin's world--across all the vast geographic, social, and emotional expanses that he traveled--and into his psyche.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
About the Author
NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE is the author of The Vision of Elena Silves, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award; The High Flyer, for which he was nominated one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 1993; and The Dancer Upstairs, chosen by the American Library Association as the Best Novel of 1997. He grew up in the Far East and South America, and now lives in London.