‘The imagination has its sanctuaries too’
High up in the Hindu Kush, between the ancient pagan Kalash people and the new medievalists of the Taliban, a charismatic young Spaniard, Jordi Magraner, made his home, mastering the local languages and customs before meeting his death there in the most mysterious way. Gabi Martínez sets off in Jordi’s footsteps to the land of the giants in order to try to solve the riddle of this murder, and of Jordi’s life.
Jordi Magraner was a brilliant student of the natural world, whose lab was the ravine and the scarp and the tent. His observational investigations led him to those places where the legendary barmanu had been sighted, and he began to develop a thesis about the life of the wild man. His passion for pursuit and discovery took him onto ever more perilous terrain in the Pakistani-Afghan borderlands. And, one by one, Jordi turned his back on the Europeans who sought to assist him, preferring instead to entrust his safety to an Afghan youth fleeing the Taliban, and to a wondrous working dog called Fjord.
Jordi sought other rewards, and followed a winding, rocky path, down which Gabi Martínez resourcefully tracks him on this enthralling journey of detection and adventure in the Himalayas — where the truth is never as clear and pristine as the majestic mountains and the fast-flowing streams.
‘When reading this book, one gets gusts of the best of Kipling, and also of Chatwin, even of Robert Byron. It’s the story of an obsessive trip, of a murder, of several love affairs, of a journey, of an adventurer who got lost forever, of the danger latent in trying to uncover an elusive truth and a truth only meaningful for he who wants it told (and then also, of course, for the fortunate reader). Fascinating from start to finish, In the Land of Giants is the kind of incredible story only an excess of reality can provide.’
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‘Martinez ably conjures the scent of juniper, the taste of black, salty tea and the sight of a 40-donkey convoy heading to Panjsh.’
‘A murder mystery more intriguing than anything you could make up.’
‘The translation skilfully captures the eccentric nature of the prose, and Martínez’s fascination comes through clearly.’
Ali Bhutto, TLS