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Monsoon Postcards: Indian Ocean Journeys

In the jungle at Andasibe National Park, Madagascar. If you look closely, there's a lemur climbing the tree to my left.

In the jungle at Andasibe National Park, Madagascar. If you look closely, there's a lemur climbing the tree to my left.

Most of my writing energy in 2017 was devoted to my second book on travel, history and culture—Monsoon Postcards: Indian Ocean Journeys, the sequel to Postcards from Stanland.  As I write in the introduction: “This book has a broader geographical sweep … describing a circuitous arc around the Indian Ocean with insights into the history, geography, politics, economy, climate and belief systems of four countries where I’ve traveled and worked over the last decade.

My story begins in  Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, which I describe as "Paris with rice paddies," then moves to the Central Highlands, the heartland of the Merina people who still practice famadihana, the ritual re-interment of their ancestors. I hang out with lemurs in the jungle and take a bumpy two-day overland trip across mountains, savannah grasslands and desert to the arid southwest. From Madagascar, I leap across the Indian Ocean to the Indian sub-continent. India defies generalizations because of its social, ethnic and religious diversity. My narrative begins in the capital Delhi, then broadens out in space and time, exploring the colonial legacy, the partition of British India, and the country’s demographic, economic and environmental challenges. From the north, I move to the ancient kingdom of Hyderabad, and finally to the under-developed “chicken-neck,” India’s Appalachia, the northeastern states of Assam and Meghalaya. Then I follow the Brahmaputra River south to Bangladesh, a country defined by its bitter struggle for independence. From the chaotic traffic and garment factories of Dhaka, I travel to the rice bowl and commercial centers of western Bangladesh, to the tea gardens of the northeast and to the delta region—the front line for climate change. My journey ends in Indonesia—at Banda Aceh, ground zero for the 2004 tsunami, the noise and traffic of the capital, Jakarta, ancient Yogyakarta, and the beaches and back country of Bali.

The hardback version (312 pages with full-color pictures) will be published by in June 2019. You can pre-order for a 20 per cent discount ($22.36) from the Ohio University (Swallow) Press.

The Monsoon Book Tour, Fall 2019

At most venues, I’ve been asked to do a potpourri of travel tales from Madagascar, India, Bangladesh and India. It won’t be the same mix everywhere—so if you come to two presentations, you’re likely to hear different tales!  For a few libraries, I’ll be doing a country-focused presentation. And then there’s a more academic (but still entertaining) presentation in Denison University’s Global Studies Seminar series on October 14.

Saturday, July 20, 2:00 p.m., “Meet the Author,” Parkersburg & Wood County Public Library, 3100 Emerson Avenue, Parkersburg, WV 26104

Thursday, August 20, 12:00 (mid-day), “Lunch with Books,” Ohio County Public Library,  52 16th Street, Wheeling WV  26003

Tuesday, August 27, 6:00 p.m., Cabell County Public Library, Main Branch, 455 Ninth Street, Huntington, WV 25701

Thursday, September 12, 7:00 p.m., Orange branch, Cuyahoga County Public Library, 31975 Chagrin Blvd, Pepper Pike, OH 44124

Thursday, September 19, 7:00 p.m., “Meet the Author,” Lakewood Public Library, 15425 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107

Saturday, September 21, 11:00 a.m., Cleveland Public Library, Center for Local and Global History
525 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114

Wednesday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Bexley Public Library, 2411 E. Main St. Bexley, OH 43209.

Thursday, September 26, 6:30 p.m., Dover Public Library, 525 N. Walnut St., Dover, Ohio 44622

Saturday, September 28. 2:00 p.m., South Charleston Public Library, 312 Fourth Avenue, South Charleston, WV 25303

Thursday, October 3, 7:00 p.m., Southeast branch, Cuyahoga County Public Library, 70 Columbus Road, Bedford, OH  44146

Tuesday, October 8, 7:00 p.m., Upper Arlington Public Library, 2800 Tremont Rd., Upper Arlington , OH 43221

 Monday, October 14, 7:30-9:00 p.m. Denison University, Granville, Ohio, Global Studies Seminar, “International university capacity building—or bullying?”

Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m., Old Worthington Library, 820 High St, Worthington, OH 43085. Co-sponsored by Worthington International Friendship Association. “Postcards from Indonesia.”

Monday, October 21, 3:30 p.m., Nelsonville Public Library, 95 W. Washington 
Nelsonville, OH 45764-1177. “Postcards from Indonesia.”

Monday, October 21, 6:00 p.m., Wells (Albany) Public Library, 5200 Washington Road 
Albany, OH 45710.

Tuesday, October 22, 11:00 a.m., The Plains Public Library, 14 S. Plains Road 
The Plains, OH 45780, “Postcards from Madagascar.”

Monday, November 18, 7:00 p.m., Solon branch, Cuyahoga County Public Library, 34125 Portz Pkwy, Solon, OH 44139