Troubador Journeys Without a Map

Released: 28/09/2021

ISBN: 9781800463394

eISBN: 9781800466449

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Journeys Without a Map

A Writer's Life


Award-winning author Marion Molteno takes us on a magical journey of discovery into the life of a writer and her readers.

From book events in small English towns to huge literary festivals in India and Pakistan, from the mountains of Tajikistan to remote parts of Africa, she traces the roots of the fictional worlds she has so brilliantly created in her novels.

Weaving through these vignettes are reflections on the creative process, her own and anyone’s — her own journey as a writer, what fiction does for us, and the vital relationship between writers and readers. 

With an ability to find significance in the ordinary and the extraordinary alike, she describes encounters with the people and cultures that have inspired her, and rediscovers at every turn what connects us to others, from next door or around the world.

Compelling, written with great pace, and full of insights into different cultures. And what a brave book it is – laying bare levels of feeling and reflection that, though beautifully written, still feel quite raw. 

All 4 of Marion's novels have won or been shortlisted for prizes.

UNCERTAIN LIGHT - finalist for two International book awards. Set in the complex world of international humanitarian aid, it begins when a UN peace keeper is taken hostage in Tajikistan. It's informed by Marion's experience of work for Save the Children across three continents.

IF YOU CAN WALK, YOU CAN DANCE - Winner of the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for the best book in the Africa region. A story of a young woman political exile, making a new life with courage. Celebrates the power of music across cultures.

SOMEWHERE MORE SIMPLE - short listed for the International Rubery Book Award, 2018. On the idyllic Isles of Scilly, three outsiders make new lives, and their own stories begin to intertwine.

A SHIELD OF COOLEST AIR winner, David Thomas Prize for Fiction. A moving story of what happened when a young woman stepped out of her safe life to befriend a Somali asylum seeker in London.

** Check out readers' responses:

- Marion is a sought after public speaker, and enjoys interacting with readers. With Covid restrictions, she's now doing this on zoom. If you're in a book group and would like to invite her to talk about her books and life experience across different cultures, get in touch via her website.

**See what others say:

- Marion is the patron of the National Women's Register whose 6,000 members meet in local groups across the UK to discuss anything that interests them. Covid has temporarily suspended home-based meetings, but they now have a fascinating programme of zoom talks. Marion is currently running a series of monthly interviews called Creative Women each featuring a woman who has achieved remarkable things, and whom she met while touring with Uncertain Light.

** Find out more here:

Marion Molteno is a superb writer, best known for her most recent novel "Uncertain Light". She has had an extraordinary life, from her native South Africa to some of the most dangerous places on earth working with Save the Children and now to her current life in London. Journeys Without a Map is an enthralling account, not just of the evolution of the novel Uncertain Light and its road to being published and read by many, but also of the experiences that informed it and the people she met along the way. It is an eventful journey that takes many engaging detours (and the reader willingly along with it). During this pandemic I have found it dificult to read but I was drawn immediately into this book and didn't want to leave. If you are looking for insight into what makes us human and to the transformative power of literature and story-telling, this is the book and the writer to read.

by Carol A Caffrey

What a fascinating story about the journey of a writer of fiction. Ironically it is the interplay between the writer's real life and her imagined characters and situations which is unpacked in this completely intriguing book. I read the first 115 pages without pause and then was so worried that there weren't going to be enough pages still to read because I didn't want the book to end so I parcelled out my dips into the rest of the book to make it last. A completely "edible" book! Well done Marion Molteno!

by Gay Morris

This is a gem of a book, and like no other. Molteno describes how, as a novelist, she set out on multiple journeys to help her books to find readers, taking in literary festivals and opportunities to speak in places familiar, and places unknown to most of us. The journeys are deeply flavoured and spiced, intensely coloured, and full of various scents and perfumes and personalities in countries in Africa and the East. In embroidering her canvas, interweaving the beauty of Urdu and Persian poetry, Molteno also takes the reader with her, through the rigours of writing, the disappointments of manuscripts rejected by publishers, the extremes to overcome that, and then the jubilation that goes with becoming a literary prize winner. It is a book full of multifarious insights. Take the journeys with her, without a map!

by Helen Marquard

As with all Marion Molteno's book, I find myself inside the very "real" experience of a thoughtful humanitarian whose values and sensibilities are badly needed in the world today. This book recounts her personal story as a writer. Not to be missed. She's one of the finest writers working today, and this book is a treasure in that it offers insight into the making of her fiction.

by Marylee MacDonald

I loved this book, an absorbing and illuminating account of a writer’s life. It weaves the author's inner journey as writer with that of her real journeys through the world - and through history - very skilfully. The writer shares her open-minded thirst for adventure and her deep interest in the people and events around her. The account of what has been involved in publishing and publicising her novels is riveting and will be of interest to all writers - and aspiring writers! A compelling read!!

by Lynda Haddock

Fascinating and evocative, letting us in to the world of a writer - perceptive, intelligent, writing mostly in later life ... one who has a rich, multicultural set of personal experiences to draw on in her writing ... and who - for better or worse, and frankly quite unbelievably - has not been part of today’s mega publishing business. 
Easy to read, written in bite sized chunks that’s a gift for those of us juggling today’s busy world of work and kids. It’s packed full of insights into the processes of writing - all the research that has gone into creating these stories - the love for the arts and languages, music and poetry, that adds a richness to her work - her very own map-less organic writing style. Also of publishing and promoting her books - the trials of independent publishing, the world of literary festivals across the U.K, in India and Pakistan. It’s written with her characteristic openness and honesty - her amazement at being nominated for a prize - how she reacts to getting negative feedback on plots and characters - being lost and nervous in a strange, chaotic city, travelling solo to a literary festival in India at seventy rather than twenty-seven. It explores why she writes, and how her values are at the core - her growing recognition that she can ‘tell stories in a way that helps those who read them empathise with situations other than their own.’

by Jen Marshall Haugen

Marion Molteno

Marion Molteno is a prize-winning author of four novels, which reflect the unusual range of a life lived across countries and cultures. She grew up in South Africa where she was active in opposition to the apartheid regime. She has worked in education in Africa and with minority communities in the UK, and as a policy adviser with Save the Children she has travelled to remote places across Asia and Africa.

Marion Molteno at the launch of her latest novel, 'Uncertain Light'

One of Marion's prize-winning novels
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