Lands of Lost Borders – Out of Bounds on the Silk Road

Kate Harris | Lands of Lost Borders – Out of Bounds on the Silk Road

Reviewed by: Noni Fenwick-Wilson

Biography Brief:  While taking a break from her studies towards becoming a scientist fit for a space mission, Kate Harris and a friend embarked on a bicycle trip in Asia.  Lands of Lost Borders is the travel memoir describing her experiences bicycling 10,000 kilometers of the historic Silk Road.  Her writing has been featured in The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, and Arc Poetry Magazine, among others.  A Rhodes and Morehead-Cain scholar, she was named one of Canada’s top modern explorers.  She lives off-grid in Atlin, BC. 

Kate Harris’s travel memoir Land of Lost Borders – Out of Bounds on the Silk Road is a charming account of two gruelling bike trips across Central Asia she took with a friend.  This treasure of a book offers far more than a traditional travel memoir.  Harris lives her life pushing the bounds of what is physically and mentally possible, and in writing of her life and travels, she challenges the reader to do the same.  Her writing is beautiful; contemplative, reflective, poetic, humorous, at times lyrical, always thought-provoking.  She blends history and literature with adventure and reflection.  She opens our minds and eyes to peoples and regions of Asia we hear and read about but few of us are able to visit, much less how she does it.

Harris and her friend Melissa cycled across Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tibet, Nepal and India, retracing the ancient Silk Road.  Without the proper permits, they twice sneaked into Tibet illegally and disguised themselves as Chinese cyclists to avoid attention.

As a child and youth, Harris dreamed of becoming an astronaut and going to Mars.  To achieve this aim she acquired several science degrees and studied at Oxford and MIT.  However, Harris gradually came to realize she would rather spend her life as a writer, exploring Earth on her bike instead of in front of a microscope in a laboratory or swathed in an Earth-isolating spacesuit.

Harris sees herself as a writer first, and an adventurer/explorer second.  In an interview with her editor, Harris says her book is about ‘defying the rules we have for ourselves, and crossing boundaries’.  Her hope is that her book makes people want to explore, ‘whatever territory is available to them’, and she hopes it ‘moves people, makes them fall in love with the earth so that they never want to abandon it’.

Kate Harris is coming to our very own precious territory, to the 2020 Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival.  You will find Lands of Lost Borders at Abraxas Books in downtown Denman.

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