There has been quite a debate in recent years over the boundaries between travel writing and fiction, and whether authors are allowed to embellish their tales of places visited with semi-fictionalised accounts of people and events. Whilst the attention has focused on Bruce Chatwin and modern travel writers, it is clear that this elision of genres has a long, proud history. "Voices of the Old Sea" is a perfect example of how lovingly honest and compelling tales of societies contemporary or ancient, bound by defined limits of history, geography and culture, can be produced with judicious amounts of poetic license.
Call it what you will, Norman Lewis was a master of this form of writing. His account of life in two tiny, dirt poor Spanish villages caught up in the forces of what later generations would call globalisation in the 1950s and how they made peace with the new, is memorable. I was captivated from the first page.