Solnit became an Irish citizen in 1986 thanks to some “fancy detective work” by an uncle who tracked down her mother’s Irish roots. “I’ve been in hybrid California, world capital of amnesia, nearly all my life,” she says. The new passport gives her an opportunity to explore notions of identity, memory and travel as a stranger in a strange land. Although ostensibly a travelogue, Solnit’s wonderfully discursive text ranges far and wide, through the geography and history of Ireland, tourism, migration and travel. Descriptions of places and people segue into brilliant meditations on metaphor, exile and nomadism.

Her meeting with Ireland’s Travellers (“hated, isolated and sometimes admired”) is a painful reminder of the US civil rights issues … More

Alev Scott’s odyssey began when she looked beyond Turkey’s borders for contemporary traces of the Ottoman Empire. Their 800-year rule ended a century ago – and yet, travelling through twelve countries from Kosovo to Greece to Palestine, she uncovers a legacy that’s vital and relevant; where medieval ethnic diversity meets 21st century nationalism, and displaced people seek new identities. It’s a story of surprises. An acolyte of Erdogan in Christian-majority Serbia confirms the wide-reaching appeal of his authoritarian leadership. A Druze warlord explains the secretive religious faction in the heart of the Middle East. The palimpsest-like streets of Jerusalem’s Old Town hint at the Ottoman co-existence of Muslims and Jews.

And in Turkish Cyprus Alev Scott rediscovers a childhood home. In every community, history is present as a dynamic force. … More

Over the past twenty years European cities have become the envy of the world: a Kraftwerk Utopia of historic centres, supermodernist concert halls, imaginative public spaces and futuristic egalitarian housing estates which, interconnected by high-speed trains traversing open borders, have a combination of order and pleasure which is exceptionally unusual elsewhere. In Trans-Europe Express, Owen Hatherley sets out to explore the European city across the entire continent, to see what exactly makes it so different to the Anglo-Saxon norm – the unplanned, car-centred, developer-oriented spaces common to the US, Ireland, UK and Australia. Attempting to define the European city, Hatherley finds a continent divided both within the EU and outside it.

Out now in paperback available in store and online.

Flights, a novel about travel in the twenty-first century and human anatomy, is Olga Tokarczuk’s most ambitious to date. It interweaves travel narratives and reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. From the seventeenth century, we have the story of the Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg.

From the eighteenth century, we have the story of a North African-born slave turned Austrian courtier stuffed and put on … More