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Travelling in a Strange Land

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  568 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Set in a frozen winter landscape, the new novel from the prize-winning, acclaimed author David Park is a psychologically astute, expertly crafted portrait of a father’s inner life and a family in crisis

I am entering the frozen land, although to which country it belongs I cannot say.

The world is hushed, cloaked in snow. Transport has ground to a halt, flights cancelled and
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published March 8th 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing UK
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Jodi This book IS available in Canada, so i'm pretty sure it'll be available in the U.S. as well. I just bought mine from Kobo. Less than $10.

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Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
A beautiful, reflective and melancholic novel that just grabs your heart and never once lets go. It is a story assembled around the wintry journey of a father from Belfast on a road trip to pick up his sick son in Sunderland, with the weather so bad that all flights have been cancelled. We slowly become aware of Daniel, his other son, and his overwhelming love and guilt for him. A thoughtful and insightful look at the damage drug addiction can wreak on a family, the pain, the increasing distance ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book ...a devastating story... very raw and emotional.
Reflections a father has on life and it’s tragedies and relationships as he takes a long drive at Christmas time to pick up his son from college during a huge snowstorm.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely, devastating little book. It's a simple story which follows Tom, a Northern Irish man making a road trip from Belfast to Sunderland to pick up his son Luke from uni for the Christmas holidays. This reverse-Odyssey is being undertaken as weather has made road conditions terrible and all public transport has been shut down, and Luke is too sick to drive himself.

On a very surface level, David Park captures the fortituderequired to drive in unsafe weather conditions in a way that
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The father takes his car from Northern Ireland to Sunderland, England to pick up his son from university to take him home. The world is white and the sounds are muffled which leaves the father in a sort of meditative state. He thinks about his other son and step by step the reader learns what has happened to him.
Words like intense, painful and vulnerable spring to mind. Beautifully written.
This is my first book by David Park and I'm impressed.
Gumble's Yard
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018

I know that I have to hold Daniel’s story close, not let anyone else find a different narrative, impose a different reading, because I’m the one who needs to make sense of it. I’m still trying every day, every single day to do that, and perhaps in time, even though I can’t easily imagine it, it might become a story that can be shared because I don’t need a shrink to tell me that holding it so close will be corrosive and stop me being fully what I need to be for my children. These are things I
Thomas Strömquist
In the eleventh hour, I finished what may be my favourite read of 2018 (although I read the Miniaturist this autumn and it’s hard to differentiate between these two). In fact, I had a great end of year as I read two of my measly four five-star reads in the final couple of weeks of the year. My number of books read has been cut almost in half in 2018 compared to recent years and I blame a change of country and job and (mostly perhaps) commute.

Anyway, about this beautiful story - a father sets out
Rob Twinem
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and lyrical Sometimes you read a book and the affect it has on you is one of sheer astonishment...astonishment that the written word can be so powerful, so all consuming. David Park is one of the few authors who has the ability to retain my 100 percent attention and to transport me to a time and location that is profoundly sad but yet so lyrical. Tom is on a journey from Belfast to Sunderland to collect his unwell son Luke, and return him home to the family nest for Christmas. The ...more
This was like looking at a negative. The darks were bright and the brights were dark.
Adrian White
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This short novel broke my heart repeatedly. Like a literary version of the Tom Hardy movie, Locke, a man's life is revealed over the course of a car journey: family, parenting, regrets, failings, little successes and terrible tragedies. David Park has written many fine novels and short stories but this has the feel of being the culmination of a life's work. An absolute gem, perfect in every way.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
When Tom, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, learns that his son, in Sunderland, England is ill, snowed in and unable to get home for Christmas because the airports are closed, he decides to get in his car, take the ferry and drive across the country through the snow and ice to get him. As the book begins, he is loading his car with provisions and equipment he may need to cope with travelling when the advice on the radio is not to travel.

This book is the story of that journey. Except it isn’t,
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up.

Now here is a 'stream-of-consciousness' novel by a Northern Irish writer worthy of some hoopla (... and major awards). At almost exactly half the length of that OTHER notoriously boring mediocrity, THIS book is a thousand times more compulsively readable & enjoyable, and has everything the other one lacks: gorgeous prose by a master poet; a complex, yet understandable plot; three dimensional characters that one can relate to and CARE about; a satisfying ending that packs an
Andy Weston
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to a Guardian ‘Not The Booker’ nomination I picked this up. On the face of it, it’s a simple tale, a father driving between Belfast and Sunderland to pick his son up from University after a winter snowstorm. But it’s far deeper than that. It is a story of grief, loss, and the plight of the homeless, the second half of it being particularly powerful.

It is beautifully written, with the odd bit of humour, and a literary soundtrack including Johnny Cash and Bob Marley. Tom, the father, uses
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is only the second novel I have read by David Park (The Light of Amsterdam was the first) but I seem to be reading a lot of sad stories by Irish authors these days. However, the writing is usually so sublime that I can't resist them - and this moving and lyrical novel is no exception.
Tom, the narrator, is travelling from Belfast to Sunderland in heavy snow to collect his son from university for the Christmas holidays. With only a satnav for company, the journey becomes a metaphorical one in
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well here I was thinking I was gearing up for a Cormac McCarthyesque hellride and, instead, I had my heart ripped out by an altogether more tender and disorienting tale of family disintegration. Beautifully tragic.
Stef Smulders
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Too simple, predictable and rather clumsy if you ask me. The author often forgets what he has stated a page earlier and then says something which doesn't seem very logical. The way he introduces the lost second son is amateurish.
2019 Winner of the Kerry Group Irish Book Award

Traveling in a Strange Land is David Park’s 11th published work. His first seven books were written when he was a secondary school teacher in Belfast. The Light of Amsterdam (2012) was his first novel after leaving teaching to write full time. His latest novel tells the story of Tom, a father and professional photographer, probably around 50, who grew up in and around Belfast. Tom leaves the family home three days before Christmas to pick up his
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Beautiful. A simple tale, not very original, but so well told, so direct and well observed it catches you straight away. As they say, it was very difficult to put down (I read it in two days, had to sleep in between). A father leaves his family home in Belfast to pick up his ill son in Sunderland, a student who's missed his flight home. As he drives he reflects on his life and family, the good and the bad, affected by a tragedy that is gradually revealed. Although it is totally rooted in the ...more
From BBC radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
A grieving father sets out in the snow to bring home his son.

Richard Orr reads David Park's beautiful story of a father coming to terms with the loss of a son.

Tom's son Luke is ill and, because of snowstorms, all flights are cancelled. Armed with supplies, his camera and a playlist, he must set out to drive from Belfast to Sunderland to bring him home.

Writer: David Park
Abridger: Robin Brooks
Reader: Richard Orr
Producer: Natalie Steed.

Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My rating strategy:

5 stars = An all time favourite, I could tell you about this 10 years later.

4 stars = Loved this, really gripping/fun/exciting, will remember long term.

3 stars = Definitely enjoyed, might forget quickly though, but happy to read more by the author.

2 stars = Likely to have some good points, but it didn't properly captivate me.

1 star = Not my cup of tea at all, wouldn't return to the author.
Melanie Garrett
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
10 Stars

Having read reviews comparing David Parks to Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and J. M. Coetzee I had very high hopes for #TravellingInAStrangeLand. But within a dozen or so pages I was already feeling the comparison should be working the other way around. This isn’t to take anything away from these other esteemed writers - all of whom I love - but simply that I can’t think of anything they’ve written which has touched me in quite the same way.

In many ways, the book it reminded most of was
Derek Macleod
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finely crafted writing, a true artisan of the gift of letting the heart lead the story rather than the intellect. I was absolutely absorbed by this soulful journey of a father trying and succeeding in making sense of his relationships with his sons, his daughter and wife and the poignancy of the light that finally glimmers through in the end. David Park speaks volumes to men wanting to be better in their role and journey as fathers and partners, jolting us to look within as well as outwards at ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
David Park has crafted a hauntingly beautiful tale of a father, Tom, on a wintery road trip to bring back his flu-ridden son, Luke, back from university in time for Christmas. It is not beautiful because of the vivid descriptions of the winter landscapes, but Park delves into the inner, driving thoughts of a father who ponders his life with his family and the struggles they have had with their eldest son, who is not the one at university.

Park takes us on a ride where the truth of the
Anna Baillie-Karas
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A father travels through snowy roads to get his son, but it’s really his inner journey thinking about his other son Daniel.

Strong, assured writing, propelling us firmly onwards even in slower parts.

At first the endless snow, with the father circling around the issue but not coming to the point, frustrated me, but I think it’s symbolic of his foggy state: he looks at the snow rather than confront his memories.

It picks up and becomes a very moving, honest portrayal of parents at a loss over
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reviews
I was so gripped by David Park’s latest novel Travelling in a Strange Land that I read it in a day.

The book has a simple premise: a severe winter snowstorm a few days before Christmas has made all road journeys treacherous and flights have been grounded. Tom, who lives in Belfast, drives his car from Stranraer, on the west coast of Scotland, to Newcastle, on the east coast of England, to collect his university-aged son, Luke, who is ill and stranded in his student lodgings.

The narrative, written
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant on-the-road Irish novel set in a snowy landscape.
A reflective, poignant and sad novel about a journey, not just about the father's physical journey in a car but his mental journey along the way. It touches on many distressing areas which may hit a chord with readers. Slow but beautifully written.
Claire Baggott
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautifully written , one of the best books I have read in ages x
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
Finished: 22.03.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: C-
Shortlisted Kerry Group Irish novel of 2019
Award announceent 29 May 2019
I reading all 5 shortlisted books and David Park's
Travelling In A Strange Land was my first book
As one reviewer said: "...beautiful, reflective, melancholic.
...." but is just did not grab my heart.
Here is why....

My Thoughts

Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We are a silent presence in Tom's car as he journeys through a frozen landscape on his way to pick up his son and bring him back home for Christmas. Other than Tom's car and his GPS, which has become a veritable and almost lifelike presence in this trip of his, it seems that the world surrounding him has ceased to exist. He is surrounded by a snowy blanket that has brought life in all its myriad movement and variety to a complete standstill. The only movement is that of his car making its way to ...more
Jackie Zwegers
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Why is this book not been No.1 on the booklists?
It is brilliant!
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