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In Xanadu: A Quest


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Winner of the 1990 "Yorkshire Post" Best First Book Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Award

About the Author

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. The book won the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award; it was also shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. In 1989 Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for six years researching his second book, City of Djinns, which won the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. From the Holy Mountain, his acclaimed study of the demise of Christianity in its Middle Eastern homeland, was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award for 1997; it was also shortlisted for the 1998 Thomas Cook Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. A collection of his writings about India, The Age of Kali, was published in 1998. William Dalrymple is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Asiatic Society, and in 2002 was awarded the Mungo Park Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his 'outstanding contribution to travel literature'. He wrote and presented the television series Stones of the Raj and Indian Journeys, which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA in 2002. He is married to the artist Olivia Fraser, and they have three children. They now divide their time between London and Delhi.


Following in the footsteps of Marco Polo, then-Cambridge University student Dalrymplepk embarks on an overland journey from Jerusalem to Xanadu, through ``twelve thousand miles of extremely dangerous, inhospitable territory.'' Ultimately, there is scarcely any danger, but there is ample history and color. In the ancient city of Acre, Dalrymple refuses narcotics from an Arab boy who, when praised for his excellent English, reveals that he learned it in jail. When Dalrymple reaches Iran with a female companion in tow, he is surprised by how tolerant and Westernized Iranians are, despite the religious revolution. Upon seeing a sign that says, ``Allah Commands the Re-use of Renewable Resources,'' the author observes, ``We had expected anything of the Ayatollah. But hardly that he would turn out to be an enthusiastic ecologist.'' Dalrymple is a delightful guide, capable of waxing poetic upon first sight of the Euphrates River, while maintaining the bright-eyed perceptions of an explorer. When, like Polo, he arrives in Xanadu with a phial of holy oil, it is the culmination of a brave and fantastic journey. The author is bureau chief for the London Sunday Correspondent in New Delhi. First serial to Conde Nast Traveler. (Sept.)

'Brilliant' Spectator 'Glorious' Patrick Leigh Fermor 'Dalrymple is probably the best travel writer of his generation' Daily Mail 'The future of travel writing lies in the hands of gifted authors like Dalrymple' Sara Wheeler, Independent

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