TRAVELLING IN A STRANGE LAND by David Park
Bloomsbury, 2018 (UK)
This was a lovely, devastating little book. It’s a simple story which follows Tom, a Northern Irish man making a road trip from Belfast to Sunderland to pick up his son Luke from uni for the Christmas holidays. This reverse-Odyssey is being undertaken as weather has made road conditions terrible and all public transport has been shut down, and Luke is too sick to drive himself.
On a very surface level, David Park captures the fortitude required to drive in unsafe weather conditions in a way that hooked and compelled me instantly, but obviously this book is so much more than that. I don’t want to give away too much as it has such a short page count, but this book delves so deep into grief and guilt that it’s a wonder Park could do it all in under 200 pages.
The only issue that cropped up for me on occasion was something that frequently bothers me with books written in the first-person; when the narrator becomes overly articulate in such a way that you can feel the author using them as a mouthpiece. I found the writing mostly lovely and authentic, and this was only an occasional criticism, but it was enough to knock it back from 5 stars.
Still, it’s a tremendously affecting book that I’d recommend highly, especially on a snowy day.
You can pick up a copy of Travelling in a Strange Land here on Book Depository.