Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing, considered by many to be one of the greatest travel writers alive today.
His first writing was about the Middle East – Damascus, Lebanon and Cyprus. In 1982 he travelled into the Soviet Union in an ancient Morris Marina, pursued by the KGB, a journey he recorded in Among the Russians. From these early experiences developed his classic travel books: Behind the Wall (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award), The Lost Heart of Asia, In Siberia (Prix Bouvier) and Shadow of the Silk Road. Thubron was President of the Royal Society of Literature from 2010 to 2017.
Now, he joins us to tell us the story of his latest book The Amur River, a dramatic and ambitious journey that took him through Russia and China.
The Amur River is almost unknown. Yet it is the tenth longest river in the world, rising in the Mongolian mountains and flowing through Siberia to the Pacific to form the tense, highly fortified border between Russia and China.
In his eightieth year, Colin Thubron takes a dramatic 3,000-mile long journey from the Amur’s secret source to its giant mouth. Harassed by injury and by arrest from the local police, he makes his way along both the Russian and Chinese shores on horseback, on foot, by boat and via the Trans-Siberian Railway, talking to everyone he meets. By the time he reaches the river’s desolate end, where Russia’s nineteenth-century imperial dream petered out, a whole, pivotal world has come alive.
The Amur River is a shining masterpiece by the acknowledged laureate of travel writing, an urgent lesson in history and the culmination of an astonishing career. Our event coincides with the paperback release of The Amur River.
“Magnificent… Colin Thubron’s observations on the relationship between Russia and China are full of insight, from which the world can benefit as it faces the challenges of the twenty-first century.” ~ Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans