by Jini Reddy
1 April 2021
Shortlisted for the 2021 Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year AwardShortlisted for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for UK Nature WritingAlone on a remote mountaintop one dark night, a woman hears a mysterious voice. Propelled by the memory and after years of dreaming about it, Jini Reddy dares to delve into the 'wanderlands' of Britain, heading off in search of the magical in the landscape. A London journalist with multicultural roots and a perennial outsider, she determinedly sets off on this unorthodox path.
Serendipity and her inner compass guide her around the country in pursuit of the Other and a connection to Britain's captivating natural world. Where might this lead? And if you know what it is to be Othered yourself, how might this colour your experiences? And what if, in invoking the spirit of the land, 'it' decides to make its presence felt?Whether following a 'cult' map to a hidden well that refuses to reveal itself, attempting to persuade a labyrinth to spill its secrets, embarking on a coast-to-coast pilgrimage or searching for a mystical land temple, Jini depicts a whimsical, natural Britain. Along the way, she tracks down ephemeral wild art, encounters women who worship The Goddess, falls deeper in love with her birth land and struggles - but mostly fails - to get to grips with its lore.
Throughout, she rejoices in the wildness we cannot see and celebrates the natural beauty we can, while offering glimpses of her Canadian childhood and her Indian parents' struggles in apartheid-era South Africa. Wanderland is a book in which the heart leads, all things are possible and the Other, both wild and human, comes in from the cold. It is a paean to the joy of roaming, both figuratively and imaginatively, and to the joy of finding your place in the world.