by Daniel Kalder - £7.99 Faber and Faber (2007)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780571227815 | ISBN 10: 0571227813
"As the world has become smaller, so its wonders have diminished. There is nothing amazing about the Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China or the Pyramids of Egypt. They are as banal and familiar as the face of a Cornflakes packet.
The true unknown frontiers lie elsewhere. The duty of the traveller, of the voyager, is to open up new zones of experience. In our over-explored world these must of necessity be wastelands, black holes, and grim urban blackspots, all the places which, ordinarily, people chose to avoid. The only true voyagers, then, are anti-tourists."
The anti-tourist does not visit places that are in any way desirable. The anti-tourist eschews comfort. The anti-tourist embraces hunger and hallucinations and shit hotels... The anti-tourist loves truth, but he is also partial to lies. Especially his own.
Lost Cosmonaut documents Daniel Kalder's travels in the bizarre and mysterious worlds of Russia's ethnic republics. Obsessed with a quest he never fully understands, Kalder boldly goes where no man has gone before: in the deserts of Kalmykia, he stumbles upon a city dedicated to chess and a forgotten tribe of Mongols; in Mari El, home to Europe's last Pagan nation, he meets the Chief Druid and participates in an ancient rite; while in the black industrial badlands of Udmurtia, Kalder looks for Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK47, and accidentally becomes a TV star.
Profane yet wise, utterly honest and yet full of lies, Lost Cosmonaut is an eye-opening, blackly comic tour of the most alien planet in our cosmos: Earth.
(Price & availability last checked: May 2018)