On the Edge of Islam from Zanzibar to the Alhambra
By Tim Mackintosh-Smith
Tim Mackintosh-Smith concludes his travels in the footsteps of Moroccan traveller Ibn Battutah across the 'worlds beyond the winds'
For Ibn Batuttah of Tangier, being medieval didn't mean sitting at home waiting for renaissances, enlightenments and easyJet. It meant travelling the known world to its limits.
Seven centuries on, Tim Mackintosh-Smith's passionate pursuit of the fourteenth-century traveller takes him to landfalls in remote tropical islands, torrid Indian Ocean ports and dusty towns on the shores of the Saharan sand-sea. His zigzag itinerary across time and space leads from Zanzibar to the Alhambra (via the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, Mauritania and Guinea) and to a climactic conclusion to his quest for the man he calls 'IB' - a man who out-travelled Marco Polo by a factor of three, who spent his days with saints and sultans and his nights with an intercontinental string of slave-concubines.
Tim's journey is a search for survivals from IB's world - material, human, spiritual, edible - however, when your fellow traveller has a 700-year head start, familiar notions don't always work.
Tim Mackintosh-Smith studied Classical Arabic at Oxford. At the age of 21, he headed east for the real Arabia. For the past 17 years, he has lived in the Yemeni capital, San`a - a place which has missed out on many of the more awful aspects of the post medieval period. His first book, Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land, won the 1998 Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award and his next book Travels with a Tangerine was critically acclaimed.
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- Publication date:
26 May 2011
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'Landfalls is a beautifully written account of Islamic life and culture in the 21st century. Whether he is looking for proof of demons off the coast of an island in the Maldives or indulging in a delirious dance to the sound of an ancient Guinean musical instrument, his book is a joyous celebration of cultural diversity' — Sunday Times
'Well paced, erudite, amusing . . . almost always fascinating . . . Landfalls proves that reports of the death of the travel book are premature. Far from it. With its mix of literary adventure, biography and autobiography, this book suggests that, in the right hands, the genre can be as flexible, energetic and rewarding as ever' — Literary Review
'Captivating' — Scotsman
'In this exquisitiely written volume, Mackintosh-Smith establishes himself as a pre-eminent travel writer of his generation, comparable to an earlier D. H. Lawrence of Eric Newby' — Toronto Globe and Mail
'The long-awaited and dazzling conclusion to the Tim Mackintosh-Smith trilogy' — Country Life
'Mackintosh-Smith's third and final volume in the series . . . is as delightful as the first two. What draws readers in is his enthusiasm and wonder . . . Another fantastic voyage of two distinctive travel writers. Recommended for those interested in travel, history and Middle East study areas' — Library Journal
'An entertaining and learned travelling companion. And, if he persuades more people to read Ibn Battutah, so much the better' — TLS
'Mackintosh-Smith's zesty travelogue is packed with eccentric characters and anecdote' — FT
'Landfalls marks the dazzling conclusion to a trilogy' — Middle East