Synopses & Reviews
From one of the most celebrated travel writers at work today a
vibrantly observant, witty, utterly captivating account of a
lifetime's worth of travel between the Tropics of Cancer and
Part memoir, part travelogue, all passionate appreciation, Tales from the Torrid Zone begins
in Iririki, Alexander Frater's birthplace. On this tiny island in
the South Seas republic of Vanuatu, his grandfather, a Presbyterian
missionary from Scotland, converted the inhabitants, his father ran the
hospital and his mother built its first schoolhouse in their front
garden. And it was on Iririki where, on the eve of his sixth birthday,
Frater fell victim to "le coup de bamboo...a mild form
of tropical madness for which, luckily, there is no cure," and
which has compelled him, again and again, to return to the
"seeding, breeding, buzzing, barking, fluttering, squawking,
germinating, growing" deep tropics.
take him to nearly all of the eighty-eight countries encompassed by
this remarkable, steamy swath of the world. He delves deeply into the
history and politics of each nation he visits, and into the lives of
the inhabitants, and of the flora and fauna. He is, at once, tourist,
explorer and adventurer, as fascinated with and fascinating
about the quotidian as he is with the extraordinary. But
certainly, he does not lack for the extraordinary: dining with the
Queen of Tonga in a leper colony; making his way across tropical
Africa and two civil wars in a forty-four-year-old flying
boat; delivering a new church bell to a remote Oceanian island.
From Fiji to Laos, Mexico to Peru, Senegal to Uganda, Taiwan to Indonesia,
Frater gives us a richly described, wonderfully anecdotal, endlessly
surprising picture of this diverse, feverish, languorously beautiful
world as much a state of mind as it is a geographical phenomenon.
"[A] pleasing grab bag of a book, a jumble of funny encounters, strange sights, forgotten history and really bad food....[A] diverting tour of the earth's hot zones." William Grimes, The New York Times
A distinguished British travel writer chronicles his various journeys between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, offering a vivid portrait of the rich beauty, diversity, flora and fauna, and people who inhabit the tropical areas of the world. 15,000 first printing.
About the Author
Alexander Frater was chief travel correspondent for the Observer and has written for numerous other publications, including the New Yorker and the New York Times. He lives in London but travels frequently to the tropics.