Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana are among the least-known places in South America: nine hundred miles of muddy coastline giving way to a forest so dense that even today there are virtually no roads through it; a string of rickety coastal towns situated between the mouths of the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers, where living is so difficult that as many Guianese live abroad as in their homelands; an interior of watery, green anarchy where border disputes are often based on ancient Elizabethan maps, where flora and fauna are still being discovered, where thousands of rivers remain mostly impassable. And under the lens of John Gimlette--brilliantly offbeat, irreverent, and canny--these three small countries are among the most wildly intriguing places on earth.
On an expedition that will last three months, he takes us deep into a remarkable world of swamp and jungle, from the hideouts of runaway slaves to the vegetation-strangled remnants of penal colonies and forts, from "Little Paris" to a settlement built around a satellite launch pad. He recounts the complicated, often surprisingly bloody, history of the region--including the infamous 1978 cult suicide at Jonestown--and introduces us to its inhabitants: from the world's largest ants to fluorescent purple frogs to head-crushing jaguars; from indigenous tribes who still live by sorcery to descendants of African slaves, Dutch conquerors, Hmong refugees, Irish adventurers, and Scottish outlaws; from high-tech pirates to hapless pioneers for whom this stunning, strangely beautiful world ("a sort of X-rated Garden of Eden") has become home by choice or by force.
In "Wild Coast, "John Gimlette guides us through a fabulously entertaining, eye-opening--and sometimes jaw-dropping--journey.
"From the Hardcover edition."
"To the admirably (or alarmingly) fearless Gimlette, the Guianas remain a terrain of matchless allure . . . He has written a spirited historical, political and personal travelogue guaranteed to arouse the adventurous reader's wanderlust . . . It offers a gorgeously vivid depiction of one of the last untamed places on the planet."
--"New York Times Book Review"
"An engaging odyssey . . . Gimlette shows the region to be endlessly fascinating, if often in a dark way, [and] summarizes sweeps of history with a quinine-dry wit . . . His books manage the neat trick of making the globe feel supremely vast and mysterious once again. He does this in part by writing a narrative that sounds as if it had been penned by an Edwardian explorer--you can almost envision his pith helmet--but also by crafting a superb travelers' tale in which yesterday has far more ballast and heft than the fleeting happenings of today."
--"Wall Street Journal
""Wild Coast "is the best kind of travel writing: tough-minded and humorous, but above all thoughtful."
--"Times Literary Supplement" (UK)
""Wild Coast" is funny, intelligent, revelatory."
--Joseph O'Neill, author of "Netherland
"Gimlette's first South American travel book, "At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, "captured with great wit and learning the quirkiness of Paraguay. He has now produced a no less remarkable portrait of the highly idiosyncratic countries known collectively as Guiana . . . "Wild Coast "is driven by extraordinary dedication, an insatiable curiosity in everything, and an enormous empathy for other people. Gimlette's descriptions of landscapes are often hauntingly beautiful, his sense of humour is engagingly dead-pan . . . His book is also characterised by a thoroughness of research that puts most travel writers to shame . . . In lesser hands, such richness of texture and abundance of learning might have led to indigestion on the reader's part. But Gimlette manages to steer through all
Series: Vintage Departures
Number Of Pages: 358
Published: 12th June 2012
Dimensions (cm): 20.1 x 13.0 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.363