Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year 2019
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Deborah Rogers Foundation Award
BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week'
In 2013 Guy Stagg made a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem. Though a non-believer, he began the journey after suffering several years of mental illness, hoping the ritual would heal him. For ten months he hiked alone on ancient paths, crossing ten countries and more than 5,500 kilometres. The Crossway is an account of this extraordinary adventure.
Having left home on New Year’s Day, Stagg climbed over the Alps in midwinter, spent Easter in Rome with a new pope, joined mass protests in Istanbul and survived a terrorist attack in Lebanon. Travelling without support, he had to rely each night on the generosity of strangers, staying with monks and nuns, priests and families. As a result, he gained a unique insight into the lives of contemporary believers and learnt the fascinating stories of the soldiers and saints, missionaries and martyrs who had followed these paths before him.
The Crossway is a book full of wonders, mixing travel and memoir, history and current affairs. At once intimate and epic, it charts the author’s struggle to walk towards recovery, and asks whether religion can still have meaning for those without faith.
‘Beautifully written, filled with strange encounters and extraordinary language, The Crossway is a meditation, an escape, a confrontation, a losing and a finding. It is a timely antidote to our disconnected times.’
Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan
‘The extraordinary story of a pilgrimage to find out the meaning of pilgrimage. Completely absorbing, personal, often funny, and full of fascinating encounters – an enlightening book from an exciting new writer.'
Sarah Bakewell, author of At The Existentialist Café
‘The journey is remarkable – a hike of thousands of miles across Europe, undertaken with rare bravery and stamina. But what is really extraordinary about The Crossway is the writing – acutely sensitive, hyper-alert and unflagging in its exploration of the strange depths and by-ways of human belief.’
Philip Marsden, author of Rising Ground
‘Stagg’s fabulously open-hearted account easily bears comparison with the great walking and monastery books of Patrick Leigh Fermor, except he goes further in revealing the damage, and how it might be repaired.’
Robert Twigger, author of Red Nile
‘I loved it. Guy Stagg is an engaging, challenging, endlessly interesting companion who just happens to write formidably well. Travel writing has a bright new star.’
Alexander Frater, author of Chasing the Monsoon