Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year Award
The Crossway is an account of Guy Stagg’s ten-month walk to Jerusalem. The author sets off from Canterbury on New Year’s Day, telling his friends and family only that he will be home before the year’s end.
He follows medieval pilgrimage routes through Western Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East, covering more than five-and-a-half thousand kilometres. He crosses the Alps in the depths of winter, spends Easter in Rome with the new Pope, witnesses the summer protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, and survives the August 2013 bombings in Tripoli. Each night he stays with monks, nuns, priests, and families, gaining a rare insight into the lives of contemporary believers.
Partly conceived as an attempt to rebuild himself after several years of mental illness, the pilgrimage forces Stagg to test the strength of his recovery. It also leaves him wondering: what power might ritual have today for someone without faith?
The Crossway is full of head- and heart-expanding wonders: the perfectly observed sights of a changing landscape, the fascinating reclamation of marginal history, the thrill and shock of perilous adventure, and the encounters with fellow pilgrims that leave Stagg amused, bemused, and, at times, moved.
This a beautiful, inspiring book that will show readers the world afresh and leave their hopes renewed.
In the media
A sublime, intense, and intimate account of a journey that becomes a kind of dream in search of solace and, perhaps, even a kind of faith. As the author walks on, across a continent, through history, time, the natural and human world – and the spaces in between – it is hard not to believe you are there, by his side. Beautifully written, filled with strange encounters and extraordinary language, The Crossway is a meditation, an escape, a confrontation, a losing and a finding. It is a timely antidote to our disconnected times.
Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan
The extraordinary story of a pilgrimage to find out the meaning of pilgrimage. Completely absorbing, personal, often funny, and full of fascinating encounters - an enlightening book from an exciting new writer.
Sarah Bakewell, author of At The Existentialist Café
The journey is remarkable – a hike of thousands of miles across Europe, undertaken with rare bravery and stamina. But what is really extraordinary about Guy Stagg’s The Crossway is the writing – acutely sensitive, hyper-alert and unflagging in its exploration of the strange depths and by-ways of human belief
Philip Marsden, author of Rising Ground
I loved it. Odd that a journey made to find salvation (a kind of 5,500 kilometre Stations of the Cross taking almost a year to walk) should turn out to be such a page turner. The reason is Stagg himself – an engaging, challenging, endlessly interesting companion who just happens to write formidably well. Travel writing has a bright new star.
Alexander Frater, author of Chasing the Monsoon