"Sovich's journeys are page-turning and suspenseful. Her travels are uncomfortable, often frightening, always illuminating and so beautifully conveyed that the reader feels present, as if she herself is watching a sunrise over the Nile." —Bookpage
"In her astute travel memoir, Sovich examines the dilemma so many women face: how to choose between a life of domesticity and one of adventure. An engaging, suspenseful, deeply philosophical anatomy of the process of making—and making peace with—life's major choices." —Rosemary Mahoney, MORE Magazine
"An epic journey." —Elle
"In a world of thousands of travel blogs, with blank spaces on the map that have been mostly filled in, Sovich proves that the question is not whether the travel genre has already been done but if it can still be done well. In Timbuktu, she does it well — and gets some answers along the way." —Washington Independent Review of Books
"Has a place ever gotten more mileage out of its name than Timbuktu? Nina Sovich also fell under the city's spell as a child, when her father referred to it in passing. Her long, fitful pilgrimage is the subject of her first book…[which] has its share of quietly appealing scenes and crisp observations." —Wall Street Journal
"To the Moon and Timbuktu
traverses the wide open expanses of the desert and the interior labyrinths of the travelling id with a lyrical, wonderful and heartfelt generosity of spirit. Nina Sovich is a new kind of travel writer: honest, open and brave. Here are the soaring vistas and the warm funny details that would draw us all to the open road and up-and-down adventures along the way. I loved every page."—Wendell Steavenson, writer for The New Yorker
and author of Stories I Stole
"Nina Sovich's spare, uninhibited writing blasts through journalistic cliches. There are sentences that recall Andre Gide's The Immoralist
. Her soaring description of the Niger River in Mali is exactly as I experienced it. Her description of Mauritania's utter desolation makes me want to go there." —Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography
"In reading To the Moon and Timbuktu
I constantly had to fight off the call to pack up my suitcases and book the next flight to Bhutan, Iceland or Laos. Nina Sovich’s luscious, intelligent and deeply philosophical memoir of a solo trip to the almost-mythical land of Timbuktu reminds me of my own wild side. She is the perfect companion to this faraway place—equal parts questing, compassionate, graceful and literary. She reminds us that it is in exploration that we find freedom, humanity and our true selves again." —Alison Singh Gee, author of Where the Peacock Sings: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
Nina Sovich had always yearned for adventures in faraway places; she imagined herself leading the life of a solitary traveler. Yet at the age of thirty-four, she found herself married and contemplating motherhood. Catching her reflection in a window spotted with Paris rain, she no longer saw the fearless woman who spent her youth travelling in Cairo, Lahore, and the West Bank staring back at her. Unwittingly, she had followed life’s script, and now she needed to cast it out.
Inspired by female explorers like Mary Kingsley, who explored Gabon’s jungle in the 1890s, and Karen Blixen, who ran a farm in Kenya during World War I, Sovich packed her bags and hopped on the next plane to Africa in search of adventure.
To the Moon and Timbuktu takes readers on a fast-paced trek through Western Sahara, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, bringing their textures and flavors into vivid relief. On Sovich’s travels, she encounters rough-and-tumble Chinese sailors, a Venezuelan doctor working himself to death in Chinguetti, indifferent French pensioners RVing along the coast, and a close-knit circle of Nigerien women who adopt her into their fold, showing her the promise of Africa’s future.
This lyrical memoir will transport you to the breathtaking landscapes of West Africa, whose stark beauties will instill wonder in even the most experienced traveler. Sovich’s journey reveals that sometimes we must pursue that distant glimmer on the horizon in order to find the things we value most.