Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road

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Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2018 - Asia, Central - 300 pages
"In the spirit of The Places in Between and Into the Silence, this is a transcendent memoir about travelling wildly out of bounds on the fabled Silk Road. "Carried me up into a state of excitement I haven't felt for years. It's a modern classic."--Pico Iyer. As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved--that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician, with a flair for basic science and endless slogging--had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth. So she looked beyond this planet, vowing to become a scientist and go to Mars. Well along this path, Harris set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule. This trip was just a simulacrum of exploration, she thought, not the thing itself--a little adventure to pass the time until she could launch for outer space. But somewhere in between sneaking illegally across Tibet, studying the history of science and exploration at Oxford, and staring down a microscope for a doctorate at MIT, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks, leaving footprints on another planet: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. And where she'd felt that most intensely was on a bicycle, on a bygone trading route. So Harris quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Yule, this time determined to bike it from beginning to end. Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer, Kate Harris offers a travel account at once exuberant and meditative, wry and rapturous, and above all full of hope. Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of the self that, like our planet, can never be fully mapped. Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders celebrates our connection as humans to the natural world, and ultimately to each other--a belonging that transcends any fences or stories that may divide us."--

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About the author (2018)

Kate Harris has written for The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, and The Georgia Review, among other publications. A Rhodes scholar and Morehead-Cain scholar, she was named one of Canada's top modern-day explorers and has won several awards for her nonfiction writing. She lives off-grid in a log cabin in Atlin, British Columbia. Lands of Lost Borders is her first book.

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