Published September 7th, 2012
John Gimlette wins the Dolman Travel Book of the Year for Wild Coast, Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge — a Longitude Best of 2011 and simply the best thing going on the Guyanas. Chair of the judges panel, Tony Wheeler, said Wild Coast “transports you to a place you barely knew about before, and all done with a relaxed nonchalance which totally disregards the tough travels … involved.” Gimlette was awarded the £2500 prize by Bill Dolman himself (a former chairman of the Authors’ Club in London) at an award ceremony held in Hatchards, Piccadilly on September 5. Wild Coast was one of a shortlist of six — and, the judges report that the decision was made in the final minutes in a private judging session held down the road at the 5th floor bar in Waterstones (yes, a bar!).
The short list also included Harlem is Nowhere, A Journey to the Mecca of Black America by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Thin Paths: Journeys in and Around an Italian Village by Julia Blackburn (sadly not published in the United States), To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron (Longitude Best of 2011), To the River: a Journey Beneath the Surface by Olivia Laing and White Fever, A Journey to the Frozen Heart of Siberia by Jacek Hugo-Bader, which will be published on these shores in October.
Decidedly British, the £2500 prize was founded in 2006 by retired coroner and Authors’ Club member, William Dolman (left), after the Thomas Cook Award was abandoned by the tour operator after a run of 20 years. It is open to any travel writer whose book has been first published in Britain, and looks for works of literary merit that show excellence in the tradition of great travel writing, combining a personal journey with the discovery or recovery of places, landscapes or peoples to instill a sense of place, excitement and wonder in the reader.