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Bruce Chatwin Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Viceroy of Ouidah (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
On the Black Hill (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Utz (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Patagonia Revisited (With: Paul Theroux) (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nowhere Is a Place (With: Paul Theroux) (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Songlines (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
What Am I Doing Here? (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Attractions Of France (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Morality of Things (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Far Journeys (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Anatomy of Restlessness (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Under The Sun (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Vintage Voyages Books

Travels with My Aunt (By: Graham Greene) (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
In Patagonia (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Rings of Saturn (By: W.G. Sebald) (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shadow of the Silk Road (By: Colin Thubron) (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (By: Xiaolu Guo) (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blood River (By: Tim Butcher) (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Bruce Chatwin was an English author of travel, literature and fiction books. He is famously known for reinventing British travel writing thanks to his debut book, In Patagonia, followed by four other books, each unique and extraordinary. He died in 1989 due to AIDs complications. Some of his books have been published posthumously.

His travel book In Patagonia was published in 1977 and revolves around Patagonia in the southern region of South America. This book saw Chatwin awarded with E.M. Forster Award and the Hawthornden Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
During World War II, the author and his mother lived at the home of his paternal grandparents, who owned a curiosity cabinet that always fascinated Chatwin. Among the special pieces in the cabinet was a piece of a brontosaurus, a giant sloth that had been mailed to Chatwin’s grandma by her cousin Charles.

While in a cave in Chile, Charles had found the remains of a giant slot which was later sold to the British Museum. He mailed his cousin a piece of the animal’s skin, and even though the piece was later lost, it served as a source of inspiration for Chatwin to embark on a journey to visit Patagonia.

In 1972, Chatwin was employed by the Sunday Times Magazine to serve as an advisor on architecture and art. The same year he interviewed a 93-year-old designer and architect Eileen Gray in her salon, where he had seen a map of South America Patagonia she had painted.
Two years later, after the interview, Chatwin booked a flight to Lima, Peru and began a journey to Patagonia. He would later tell that he sent a letter to his editor informing him that he was doing a story about Patagonia, something he always wanted to write up. He spent six months in the Patagonia area exploring and gathering stories from the people who had migrated from other regions and settled there. He framed the story of his trip using the piece of brontosaurus from his grandparent’s cabinet.
Chatwin explained In Patagonia as the story of an actual journey which is quite symbolic to him. The narrator embarks on a journey to a country far from home in search of a strange animal: on his journey, he encounters strange people, situations and other books with mysterious stories, all adding up to form a message.
In Patagonia is said to be an experimental book in the way it’s written and structured. It’s divided into 97 sections, some short as a paragraph. In an actual sense, this structure, with the everyday use of digression instead of traditional linear structure, is a reflection of one of the underlying themes of the work as a whole: nomadism and meditation upon wondering in human life. This is emphasized by the fact that most of the stories of the people that the author meets involve discussions of nomadic life.
Chatwin’s journey takes him from Bueno Aires through Argentina and into the cities and towns in Chile. Some of the themes he focuses on in the story include the wildlife and the landscape of Patagonia, the history of European exploration and settlement, anarchists and strikers, Butch Cassidy’s stay in Patagonia and the fate of Patagonia’s native inhabitants.

In Patagonia book established Chatwin as a travel writer. His biographer Nicholas Murray described the book as one of the most original postwar English travel books and further admitted that the book re-energized the genre of travel writing. Additionally, the book was described as a masterpiece of history, travel and adventure by the New York Times. Other reviewers compared the book with famous books of travel literature such as The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron, Eothen by Alexander Kinglake and, Travels by Sir John Mandeville,.
But not every good literature establishes itself without criticism. Some residents in Patagonia gave a contradicted account of events portrayed in Chatwin’s book. It was the first time in Chatwin’s writing career but not the last that the characters and conversations that the author narrated as a factor were later said to be fiction. One of Chatwin’s biographers, Nicholas Shakespeare, said that the critics suspected that some of brontosauri’s were mylodons. Additionally, some later editions of In Patagonia featured 15 black and white photos by Chatwin.

Aside from non-fiction books, Bruce Chatwin also authored fictional books, one of them dubbed On the Black Hill. The book won Whitebread First Novel Award in 1982. It also received positive reviews, with The Independent describing it as one of the deepest and best books by Chatwin.

It is a brilliantly written story of Benjamin and Lewis, two identical twin brothers who spent their childhood on a farm in rural Wales. The brothers till their land and sleep on the same bed. While they are identical and difficult to distinguish, differences arise as the brother grows into adulthood.

The relationship between the twins is one of the biggest strengths of this book. As adults, the brothers quarreled without speaking, but as youngsters, they shared everything and even split their sandwiches and swapped the halves.

We first meet the twins in their eighties. The author moves back in time to show us not only their childhood and experiences as adults but also the relationship between their parents, which was good at first but later spiraled into violence. The characters are fascinatingly drawn, and each is fleshed out in unpredictability. A perfect example is the twin’s parents. Before marriage, they were both more cheerful and unsure and had a wonderful and beautiful life. They both felt that nothing would come in between their marriage, but as fate would have it, violence broke, and chaos became the order of their marriage.

While on the greater lengths, On the Black Hill tends to be rather dark, there are some light moments the characters enjoy. Overall, this book is thoughtful and an easy read that spans between two entire lives. Besides the more serious elements, Chatwin added to the story. There are some captivating and meditative scenes throughout the pages.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Bruce Chatwin

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