The renowned Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta leaps into his debut novel, Pig’s Foot, with a fantastical tale spanning 150 years of Cuban history. Slavery, revolution, racism, communism, betrayal, violence—it’s all part of the journey Oscar Kortico, the novel’s hyperbole-prone hero, takes to find his ancestral village.
In post-tsunami, post-civil war Sri Lanka, British biology teacher Cherry Briggs vividly retraces the footsteps of a quirky 19th-century explorer. Her new memoir, The Teardrop Island, recounts traveling via bus and tuk-tuk, from tea estates to temples, and through war zones and cricket matches.
A fishing village in Suffolk, England, sets the scene for an unlikely friendship between a pub owner’s son and a mysterious new arrival who turns out to be controversial “Glasgow Style” architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, in Esther Freud’s richly detailed novel Mr. Mac and Me. Even more disruptive to village life is the start of WWI, bringing with it coastal vigils and the drone of Zeppelins.
In The Kindness Diaries, burned-out broker Leon Logothetis rides a vintage motorcycle through Europe, India, and Southeast Asia, relying on the kindness of strangers—and then generously rewarding them. From a struggling farm in Montenegro to a barely roofed home in rural Cambodia, he finds fuel for his soul.
Don George is an editor at large at Traveler magazine (this article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue) and the author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing. Follow Don on Twitter @don_george.
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