11 Apr 2020

Colin Thubron: travel writing off the beaten track

From Saturday Morning, 8:35 am on 11 April 2020
Colin Thubron

Colin Thubron Photo: Supplied


The acclaimed travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron was due to arrive in New Zealand for the Auckland Writers’ Festival next month. He’s been here before, travelling around the North and South Islands by motorbike back in 1965.

His latest trip, of course, has now been derailed by coronavirus, along with all other global travel for what looks like an extended period.

All this might come as a blow to Thubron who over his career has amassed air miles aplenty travelling to far flung and rarely visited corners of the globe.

His serial odysseys have been the subject of 15 travel books and counting: these have largely focussed on Russia, Central Asia and China and include Mirror to Damascus (1967), Among the Russians (1982), Shadow of the Silk Road (2006), and To A Mountain in Tibet (2011).

His work has seen him selected by The Times as one of the 50 greatest post-war British writers. He’s about to finish his latest book all about the world's tenth longest river; the nearly 3,000 kilometre long (but rarely heard of) Amur River on the border of Russia and China.