TWO NEW BOOKS, SCHIZOPHRENIA: WHO CARES? AND ON FOOT ACROSS FRANCE: DUNKIRK TO THE PYRENEES, an account of my long walk across France from Dunkirk to the Mediterranean, are now available on this site..
Click on “books” in the sidebar for details.
See Cycling the Danube: Budapest to the Black Sea
Tim Salmon: writer, translator, photographer…
Writing is what I do for a living, or so I say. It seems a bit rich, since it provides only the most meagre of livings even for the best of writers. I have written mostly about other countries, especially France and Greece. I have written guidebooks, cookery books and accounts of my own travels as well as contributing to the classier English newspapers like the Guardian, Independent, Times, Observer, Telegraphs and Sunday Times and magazines like Time Out, Country Life, Great Outdoors, The Countryman and London Review of Books. I have done translations from and into Greek and French. I have done radio work for the BBC, taken part in some TV shows and made a documentary about transhumant shepherds which was shown on Swiss and Greek TV, which is where the man in the photograph comes in: my old friend Tsiogas, owner of flocks in the mountains of Greece and a significant force in my life – of which, more later.
It is the Greek, Roman, Mediterranean world that I am most interested in: southern and eastern Europe, the lands where Latin and Greek are spoken, the world that my classical education introduced me to. I am interested in the history and the physical remains of the ancient civilisations but it is the world of today that attracts me particularly: the ordinary life of ordinary people, especially country people. And I like to hear about it from the horse’s mouth: from the people themselves, in their own language. It is no good hearing stories of other lives in your own language. For one thing, the people whose English is good enough to be able to tell you tend already to have been distanced by their education from those whom I want to call the “real” natives. Secondly, and more importantly, English, my native language, has developed in other climes, subject to other influences: it does not, cannot, adequately describe the Greekness of Greece or the Turkishness of Turkey or even the Frenchness of France. It acts as a filter, eliminating the really interesting detail and nuance. Alas, there is a limit to the number of languages you can master in a lifetime, as I am discovering as my interests extend eastward to the Black Sea and central Asia.
If I had to list my main writing interests, the list would look something like this:
- the mountains of France, Greece, Turkey
- transhumance and pastoral people, especially the Vlachs of north-west Greece
- the back-country areas of France, Greece, Turkey
- the back-street areas of big cities like Paris, Athens, Istanbul
- the Black Sea, especially the once-Greek ports of Bulgaria, Romania, the Ukraine and Turkey
- the Turkic-speaking countries of central Asia
- walking and cycling
This last, I know, seems an odd bedfellow, but it is an illness from which my dear son has suffered for many years.
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