When he was around twenty, Jeroen Theunissen came across a map of Europe in a travel agency, with thick purple lines marking long-distance hikes. When, many years later, the writer starts suffering from anxiety attacks and depression and feels melancholic and trapped in an unhappy marriage, he leaves everything and everyone behind, including his two children, and embarks on a six-month walk from Southwest Ireland to the Bosporus Strait.
This existential exploration of Europe, the past and the aching soul was one I couldn’t put down. So beautifully and elegantly written.David Van Reybrouck
At once hilarious, melancholic and brutally honest. This is a major work by Jeroen Theunissen, one of our best wordsmiths. Impressive.David Van Reybrouck
By doing so, Theunissen follows in the footsteps of the Brit Patrick Leigh Fermor, who travelled on foot from Hook of Holland to Constantinople back in 1933, across a Europe that was at a pivotal moment. It was the year Adolf Hitler came to power. The Europe that Theunissen traverses is once again beset by problems, including climate change, nationalism and a refugee crisis.
‘I, Cartographer’ is many books in one. An account of a walking tour. A clumsy attempt at grabbing onto our rapidly changing world. A story of a man who runs from his responsibilities, comes back and tries to create a home for his children. In ‘I, Cartographer’, Theunissen draws a personal map of Europe, the continent he likes to call home.
Against the fast-paced, hyper-connected life, Theunissen pits the low, slow perspective of the walker. And yet ‘I, Cartographer’ is more than a book about walking.De Lage Landen
A highly individual, incredibly rich book by a writer who occupies a unique place in our literary landscape.Cutting Edge