John Gimlette is the winner of the Shiva Naipaul Prize for Travel Writing. He crossed the Soviet Union at the age of seventeen, worked in Argentina on the eve of war and has travelled to over eighty countries. He has published four previous books: At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, Theatre of Fish, Panther Soup and Wild Coast (winner of the Dolman Travel Book Prize) which have all featured on Radio 4, and contributes articles and photographs to various newspapers and magazines. He lives in London where he practices as a barrister.
The reader in search of a thoughtful adventure is in good hands. Gimlette brings a brisk barrister-like inquisition to proceedings, allied with amiable good humour and a searching interest in the history of peoples and places . . . Intrepid to the last, Gimlette wanders among mountains and jungles, drawing his journey to a close among the wreckage of the civil war . . . Rich in humour, full of insight and humanity, Elephant Complex is a very fine tribute to this enigmatic island nation - SpectatorBrilliant . . . It displays his gift for graphic imagery and his eye for the absurd. But it is, perhaps, his darkest book yet . . . Along with the swimming trunks and the sunblock, I'd pack a copy of Elephant Complex - TelegraphA gripping account of an under-reported island - Spectator, Book of the YearBook of the Year: The 'elephant complex' of the title refers to ancient paths that the creatures have always followed on the island. Gimlette believes he must trace similar historical paths to get under the skin of Sri Lanka. He does so with wit and the occasional scrape with the authorities - The TimesInsightful and interesting . . . holistic observation of humanity as entalged in acryptic webbing of mortality, immortality and matter that Gimlette offers us . . . The great appeal of this book is that we travel alongside him - Ceylon TodayA quest to understand the country, and not a mere description of it. This is what sets the book apart from the legion of Ceylon and Sri Lanka travelogues. . . Sri Lankans themselves will find Gimlette's renditions of places from Colombo to the desolate Wanni inspiring and evocative . . . While many travel writers on Ceylon often tended to trim and twist the country to fit it into their own neat narrative, Gimlette does not hide the incongruities and bafflements he encountered - Sri Lanka Sunday TimesAn intrepid journey to the famously reclusive island unearths a paradise amid trauma and obfuscation . . . An effortless, elegant writer, Gimlette chronicles the stories of these truculent, traumatized people . . . An exuberant, eye-opening travel quest - Kirkus