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Carole Angier: The strange world of W.G. Sebald 


Carole Angier (Photo by Roderick Field) W.G. Sebald has been described as “a writer of almost unclassifiable originality”. You’d be just as likely to encounter his “essayistic semi-fiction” under travel literature, history or fiction. It is all of these things, and none of these things. Sebald wrote about the plight of emigrants, and in particular, emigrants from the Holocaust.   His...

Cultural appropriation is nonsense


The author disguised as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Of all the bizarre transgressions used to shame social media foes in our increasingly hysterical society, the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is surely the most confused. The idea that you can somehow steal (for that is what ‘appropriate’ means in this context) someone’s culture is silly even by academic standards, and that’s...

The word is finally getting out 


Personal Landscapes seems to be growing a following. The word is spreading slowly but surely… An unbending onslaught of babble about books. A cacophony of cultured conversation. Voice from another room: This tiresome trireme of tomfoolery isn’t helping. Fine. Be like that. I just wanted to let you know the podcast has been added to this carefully curated list over at Nomad Flag ==> The Best...

David Eimer: Cultural survival in China’s borderlands


David-Eimer – Photo by Gilles Sabrie David Eimer is the author of the critically acclaimed The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China, and A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma. He was a Beijing-based correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph from 2005 to 2012, and the Southeast Asia correspondent for the Daily Telegraph between 2012 and 2014. You can also find his...

Indulging My Bosphorus Obsession


Soft afternoon light over the Bosphorus The latter half of my Istanbul trip involved a change of scene: from a hotel in Sultanahmet to a flat on the Bosphorus, from old Constantinople to modern Turkey by way of the T1 tram. The location was great — a short walk from Taksim Square, the pedestrian shopping strip of Istiklal Caddesi, and backstreet restaurants in Cihangir and Çukurcuma — but...

Walking the Theodosian Walls


The Theodosian Walls stood impregnable for nearly 1,000 years Christmas passed largely unnoticed while I was in Istanbul. Traditional holidays don’t have the same glow when living far from friends and family. Instead, they’re a reminder of what we give up to live a life abroad.  I tend to spend December 25th walking. I don’t plan to; it just works out that way. On my last Christmas in Malta...

The Palace at the Centre of Ottoman Power


In my last blog, we wandered through the echoes of Byzantium in Hagia Sophia, the summit of its civilization embodied in stone.  I’ll have more to share about this most venerable empire in an upcoming article, but first we must visit the world of the Ottomans. What better place to meet their shades than Topkapi Palace, home of Sultans and seat of government for nearly 400 years? Topkapi Palace...

A Dose of Holy Wisdom at Haghia Sophia


Haghia Sophia, the pinnacle of Byzantine architecture As Omicron fears swept through the vaccinated and unvaccinated of Berlin, and the government threatened yet another series of lockdowns, I slipped off to our shambles of a new airport and caught a flight to Istanbul, the city that straddles Europe and Asia, both literally and metaphorically. My first stop of this Christmas escape could only be...

The Best Books I Read in 2021


Best Books 2021 Do you have a book addiction? I’m here to make it worse. Another year has come and gone. Berlin’s still huddling beneath a pandemic sky, and I spent much of the past twelve months reading and dreaming dreams of freedom. I started a podcast this year, too. It’s called Personal Landscapes: Conversations on Books About Place, and given the topic, it’s added even more to my reading...

Christmas markets in viral times


There’s still something to ho-ho-ho about A lot of friends have asked me if Christmas in Germany has been cancelled again this year. At first I thought the holidays were under assault by the deeply concerned and undoubtedly caring folk who have harnessed the power of online mobs to make the internet a kinder and gentler safe space. Were shock troops from the Diversity & Inclusion...

Ryan Murdock

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


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