Monday, October 25th, 2010
By Jacqueline Dutton, Director, Australian Festival of Travel Writing
Why travel writing?
The armchair traveler can go anywhere thanks to adventurers who explore the ends of earth and thanks also to the less adventurous like Alain de Botton who spent a week at Heathrow airport.
The genre of travel writing includes a vast and multi-faceted array of narratives that range from the published memoir of a journey undertaken, such as Robyn Davidson’s seminal work, Tracks, to blogs that provide instantaneous access to a traveller’s whereabouts and impressions about where they’re at, like the blogsite of the peripatetic Tony Wheeler.
In between these extremes lie many different ways of musing about travel: journalistic articles in newspapers and glossy magazines, Lonely Planet guidebooks, documentary films, as well as fictional texts – short stories, poems, plays, film scripts, novels, songs – that transport us through their evocative descriptions of other places and peoples.
Since Bill Buford put travel writing on the contemporary literary agenda with his special issue of Granta in 1984, the genre has been gathering momentum to become the highly popular literary trend that it is today. Its gradual climb to prominence in the bookstore shelves and bestseller lists (Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love are recent examples) indicates that it’s not just a fashionable flash in the pan for freelance journalists who like to spend time away from the desk. (more…)