Books of the year 2010 | Olivia Laing

Under the Sun: the Letters of Bruce Chatwin selected and edited by Elizabeth Chatwin and Nicholas Shakespeare


My book of the year, without question, is Under the Sun: the Letters of Bruce Chatwin (Jona than Cape, £25). In the same way as one's heroes almost always diminish in the flesh, so collections of letters can be dismally disappointing, exposing the bathetic and insalubrious elements of the writer's life. Not so here. Chatwin emerges as a glittering, peripatetic figure, darting around the globe in pursuit of the rare objects and experiences that informed his five, peerlessly strange sort-of-novels.

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This article first appeared in the 22 November 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Advantage Cameron