Picador have kindly sent me a copy of the paperback edition of Astray by Emma Donoghue, which will be out later this month and which I read in hardback earlier in the year, and so I thought I'd put it up for grabs. It's a sequence of stories or 'fact-inspired fictions' on the themes of wanderings, deviations and going astray. The epigraph is from Virgil's Aeneid:
"Tell us underneath what skies, / Upon what coasts of earth we have been cast; / We wander, ignorant of men and places, / And driven by the wind and the vast waves";
its sections are entitled 'Departures', 'In Transit', and 'Arrivals and Aftermaths', and within them each piece is inspired by an actual historical account - but often no more than a brief mention in a letter or newspaper report - of a journey, or some form of displacement. From this seed or source material Emma Donoghue has created a series of perfect vignettes, capturing or imagining a unique and appropriate voice for each, 'assuming' a style to suit her subject matter*.
The book begins with the story of Jumbo the famous elephant at London Zoo who was sold to Barnum's Circus in 1882 (this despite huge public outcry), and moves on through other emigrants, runaways, settlers and travellers, taking in all types of people and the transgressive or transformative situations in which they find themselves. It's inventive and intuitive, vivid and sharp of focus, and I hope whoever wins it will enjoy it very much.
To enter the draw, then, please leave a comment on this post naming a favourite book - fiction or non-fiction - about travelling in one way or another, or which involves a journey of some kind; it can be anything at all as long as it appealed to you. The competition is open to everyone, so please put your name in the hat.
(*See this brief extract from the book's Afterword.)