Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

I hope you’ll join me on Tuesday


Tuesday April 23 is the official publication day for my new book A Sunny Place for Shady People. It’s been a long haul from first draft to finished volume. I must have rewritten it seven or eight times as the story I set out to tell morphed into the story I had to write.  I hope you’ll join me on Zoom for the online launch. I’ll be talking with Jeremy Bassetti, host of the excellent Travel...

Sherlock Holmes and the Ottoman Empire


Andrew Finkel In the late 1800s, during the Victorian era, a moderately successful doctor in Southsea created a fictional character so compelling that people wrote letters to him asking for help. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the novel A Study in Scarlet at age 27, in less than three weeks. The book didn’t attract much interest, but he went on to write a second novel with a little nudge from Oscar...

Ryan Murdock in conversation with Caroline Muscat


I want to give you a rare behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like being an investigative journalist in Malta after the car bomb assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.  And so I reached out to my friend Caroline Muscat, founder and editor-in-chief of The Shift, the Maltese investigative news portal where I was a weekly columnist for over four years. If you’ve read my new book A Sunny Place...

A sunny place for shady people


A Sunny Place for Shady People by Ryan Murdock My new book is now available for your reading pleasure. It’s called A Sunny Place for Shady People, and it’s about six years I spent living on the island of Malta. I went there because I wanted to write an island book inspired by Lawrence Durrell — and there was light and laughter in those early years. But then there was an election, and everything...

The Wakhan Corridor with Bill Colegrave


Bill Colegrave The Amu Darya River forms a natural barrier between the lands of Central Asia to the north and the Afghan and Indian worlds to the south. Ancient writers called it the Oxus. It was the nucleus of Bactrian civilizations, the target of conquerors like Alexander the Great, and the destination of intrepid 19th and 20th century travelers. The exact location of the river’s source...

Group photos with random strangers


I’ve never been approached by so many people for group photos. People in Uzbekistan were incredibly friendly, and very curious. So many approached me because they were learning English and wanted to talk. But just as many spoke only Uzbek and Russian. They stopped me randomly on the street because they wanted to take a photo.  That’s happened to me once or twice on other trips. But in...

Justin Marozzi: Tamerlane and Samarkand


Justin Marozzi I’d always thought of Temur as a cut-rate Genghis Khan who burst out of the Asian steppe, conquered a sizeable chunk of territory, and then failed to hold his empire together. It was only when researching a trip to Uzbekistan that I discovered Temur — or Tamerlane, as he was known in the West — was one of the world’s greatest conquerors. He was a strategist on a par with Alexander...

Gilded days in Samarkand


Gūr-i Amīr Mausoleum My interest in Bukhara and Khiva centred on the Great Game. Samarkand is all about Timur. The great Central Asian conqueror is known as Tamerlane in the West but he’s hardly a household name like Genghis Khan or Alexander. I’ll have more to say about him next week. Today I’d like to tell you about the rich architectural legacy he left behind. Timur was born near Samarkand in...

Alex Kerr on Finding Hidden Japan


Alex Kerr I’ve often thought of Japan as one of the world’s most misunderstood countries, not because it is uniquely inscrutable but because it’s so beset by stereotypes.  The casual visitor rarely sees beyond their image of geisha, Buddhist temples, hyper-modern electronics and anime. This exotic projection seems especially prevalent here in Germany and in France. The truth is more...

New Year’s Eve in Samarkand


The next afternoon we took the golden road to Samarkand. It wasn’t golden and it wasn’t a road. It was steel, and they were rails.  We rode the Afrosiyob, Uzbekistan’s high speed showcase, built by the Spanish company Talgo and capable of flinging us across the desert at up to 250 km/h. It wasn’t as smooth as a Japanese shinkansen but it provided a level of comfort and speed I hadn’t expected in...


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