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In Outlandish, acclaimed travel writer Nick Hunt takes us across landscapes that should not be there, wildernesses found in Europe yet seemingly belonging to far-off continents: a patch of Arctic tundra in Scotland; the continent's largest surviving remnant of primeval forest in Poland and Belarus; Europe's only true desert in Spain; and the fathomless grassland steppes of Hungary.
From snow-capped mountain range to dense green forest, desert ravines to threadbare, yellow open grassland, these anomalies transport us to faraway regions of the world. More like pockets of Africa, Asia, the Poles or North America, they make Europe seem larger, stranger and more filled with secrets.
Against the rapid climate breakdown of deserts, steppes and primeval jungles across the world, this book discovers the outlandish environments so much closer to home - along with their abundant wildlife: reindeer; bison; ibex; wolves and herds of wild horses. Blending sublime travel writing, nature writing and history - by way of Paleolithic cave art, reindeer nomads, desert wanderers, shamans, Slavic forest gods, European bison, Wild West fantasists, eco-activists, horseback archers, Big Grey Men and other unlikely spirits of place - these desolate and rich environments show us that the strange has always been near.
“Vivid, moving, profound and sometimes very funny...Outlandish is a truly stunning work of non-fiction and an important addition to writing that explores the deep connections between ourselves and our place on Earth.”
— Joanna Pocock, author of Surrender
“Nick Hunt is splendid company: kind, acute and wise, with an unerring eye for eloquent detail and a philosopher's view of the big picture. Don't miss this walk with him through portals you'd never stumble across yourself, and on into the thrilling surprise of a wholly improbable Europe”
—Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast
“Outlandish is filled with boundless energy and insatiable curiosity yet it is gloriously gentle, too, carefully and elegantly steering us towards new ways of seeing our world”
—Caroline Eden, author of Black Sea
“Precise, moving and exacting in its prose, this embodied and emotional journey gives the near world a fresh urgency, and makes it suddenly curious”
—Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings
“An enchanting collection”