International Bestseller: The famed travel writer and author of In Patagonia traverses Australia, exploring Aboriginal culture and song—and humanity's origins.
Long ago, the creators wandered Australia and sang the landscape into being, naming every rock, tree, and watering hole in the great desert. Those songs were passed down to the Aboriginals, and for centuries they have served not only as a shared heritage but as a living map. Sing the right song, and it can guide you across the desert. Lose the words, and you will die.
Into this landscape steps Bruce Chatwin, the greatest travel writer of his generation, who comes to Australia to learn these songs. A born wanderer, whose lust for adventure has carried him to the farthest reaches of the globe, Chatwin is entranced by the cultural heritage of the Aboriginals. As he struggles to find the deepest meaning of these ancient, living songs, he is forced to embark on a much more difficult journey—through his own history—to reckon with the nature of language itself.
Part travelogue, part memoir, part novel, The Songlines is one of Bruce Chatwin's final—and most ambitious—works. From the author of the bestselling In Patagonia and On the Black Hill, a sweeping exploration of a landscape, a people, and one man's history, it is the sort of book that changes the reader forever.