Man Booker prize winners Yann Martel and Julian Barnes are going head-to-head to claim a title of best travel fiction book of the year.
Yann, who won the prestigious Booker award for Life Of Pi in 2002, and Julian, who won it in 2011 for The Sense Of An Ending, are in the running for the prize at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. The High Mountains Of Portugal, by Yann, and The Noise Of Time, by Julian, will be up against books by Jessie Burton, Eowyn Ivey, Robert Seethaler and Madeleine Thien.
The novels, which have a global theme, take readers to a range of locations such as Alaska, Austria, China, Portugal, Spain and the former USSR. Lyn Hughes, chairing the judges for the prize, said: “Setting is a vital aspect of any novel; writers are granted all flights of fancy when it comes to character or plot, but if they are unable to transport the reader to their chosen locale, to bring the sights, sounds and smells of their characters’ surroundings to life, they will have failed. “Our shortlisted writers have succeeded brilliantly, creating vividly portrayed backdrops around the world and across the centuries.”
Edward Stanford boss Tony Maher said: “As the world grows smaller and in many cases more dangerous, travel writing in all its forms keeps us in touch with our global family. “These disparate shortlists have one unifying feature – they are all marvellous examples of what travel writing and publishing does best, which is to show the reader a world far from our own doorsteps, made reachable by these glorious, powerful and unforgettable books.”
Other categories include adventure travel book of the year, children’s travel book of the year, illustrated travel book of the year and innovation in travel publishing. Contenders for the food and travel book of the year include Sally Butcher’s Persepolis: Vegetarian Recipes From Peckham, Persia And Beyond; Yasmin Khan’s The Saffron Tales: Recipes From The Persian Kitchen; Tessa Kiros’s Provence To Pondicherry: Recipes From France And Faraway; Anne Sijmonsbergen’s Eivissa: The Ibiza Cookbook; Summayya Usmani’s Summers Under The Tamarind Tree: Recipes And Memories from Pakistan; and Rick Stein’s Long Weekends.
The winners will be announced at a London event on 2 February, alongside winners of the Lonely Planet travel blog of the year and the Bradt Travel Guide’s new travel writer of the year. There will also be special recognition for the outstanding contribution to travel writing, which was last year given to Bill Bryson.