Jay Griffiths

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Wild: An Elemental Journey

Reviews

WILD won the inaugural Orion Book Award for 2007 and was shortlisted for the Orwell prize and for the World Book Day award.

“Reality is such that both language and imagination have to exaggerate, in order to confront it truly.  Living with such exaggeration you need a very good head for heights and a lot of bravery.  In this book Jay Griffiths has both.  If bravery itself could write (by definition it can't), it would write, I believe, like she does.”
John Berger

Wild is like nothing else I've ever read: thrilling, troubling, frightening, exhilarating.  Jay Griffiths' courage and energy are formidable, but so is her sheer intelligence and literary flair.  This is a truly necessary book, and we are all lucky that the subject found a writer worthy of it.”
Philip Pullman

“Passionate, rigorous and utterly honest, Griffiths' remarkable book is written in a style as wild and exciting as its subject.” – Robert Macfarlane , author of Mountains of the Mind

“A major book by a major writer…powerful and uncompromising… she writes like four kinds of gorgeous, so deep in love with the world that when the right word isn't there she simply births it… a majestic anthropology”
Bill McKibben, The Ecologist

“I used to think the wild did not have words, that it lay beyond the edge of logic and expression. With her journey and her struggle, Jay Griffiths proves me wrong.  She wanders, she wonders, she suffers, she survives.  Her words are intense, episodic, gripping, and sensual, somewhere between Edward Abbey and Jeanette Winterson-who knew there was such a place?  Wild is the first great nature writing of the 21st century.”
David Rothenberg, author of Why Birds Sing and Wild Ideas

“If a tiger could write poetry or a polar bear prose, they might write a book as exciting as Wild .”
Adrian Mitchell , Shadow Poet Laureate

“Very rarely do you come across a book that makes you want to stand on the street corner with a megaphone and bully every passer by into reading it. But this is how I felt about Wild , really one of the most exciting books I've read for years. It's both a beautiful work of scholarship and a passionate polemic for more love and freedom and joy in today's grey, unsustainable and murderously bureaucratic world.”
Tom Hodgkinson, author of How To Be Idle and How To Be Free

“Jay Griffiths's Wild is part travelogue, part call to arms and wholly original…Griffiths's aim is not to explore the world, nor its people, though she inevitably and fabulously does so. Her project is wildness itself, in all the philosophical glory that the 'sublime' held for the Romantics… Griffiths is fascinated by, and fascinating on, wild language, and her writing builds in extraordinary poetic sequences. Indeed, of the many literary elements that make up the book - travelogue, memoir, journal, reportage, extended essay on feminism, sociology, anthropology, religion, ecology and geopolitics - it is probably poetry that comes closest to defining this undefinable and untameable work. Perhaps its most remarkable achievement is its own quality of wildness. Wild is alive with its subject. Language is thrown around in the most earthy, vital way… A vital, unique and uncategorisable celebration of the spirit of life wherever it is found, Wild is a profound and extraordinary piece of work.”
Ian Beetlestone, The Observer

“Incandescent, kaleidoscopic, brave, exhilarating… the intelligence of a naturalist and the luminous originality of a visitor from another planet. Wild is sensuous, cocky, magnificent, liberating, explosive and exciting… Joycean word-play, meticulous scholarship, ironic wit, crafted cadences, Wild is a profoundly important contribution, a raging oratorio.”
Richard Mabey, The Times

“Remarkable. Griffiths tears out a stupendous style, volcanic yet soft like the sound of a river, cadenced as birdsong, in a book almost onomatopoeic in the use of language to match its view of the world. Her use of etymology to reach into the core of a cultural vision is unsurpassed. A book constructed, through intuitive, poetic associations. Griffiths takes on the Western conceptual lexicon, exposing the misapprehensions on which it is based…. The true wildness at the heart of the book is the author's own. There is a reslessness and a pain beneath every sentence which can fill one with a deep melancholy. But there is also a righteous fury, at the destruction of a world whose every fibre is – for this deeply sensitive writer – precious almost beyond understanding. The result is a paean, a threnody, a work of great sadness and great joy.
Toby Green , The Independent

Wild is a song of delight, and a cry of warning, poetic, erudite and insistent… a restless, unstintingly generous
performance… it carries the mark of true intellectual and spiritual passion”
Jonathan Gibbs, The Independent on Sunday

“Like Rebecca Solnit and John Berger – dwellers in the fecund borders between the social and the personal, the political and the epiphanic – Griffiths is primarily a storyteller. Speaking to the planetary tribe at a moment of extraordinary collective crisis, she operates shamanically, making a series of remarkable journeys through cultures, conflicts and language, and she returns with the wisdom of profoundly lived experience. A bardic hymn to the necessity of the unfettered in envisioning possibility and change, Wild is radical in the original, etymological sense. It goes to the root of the problem and it sings its way there.”
Gareth Evans, Time Out “Book of the week”

“Jay Griffiths is a five-star, card-carrying member of the hellfire club… a strange, utterly compelling book, Wild is easily the best, most rewarding travel book that I have read in the last decade. It is a bold rag-bag of a work, full of pagan energy, and at times richly beautiful. The author keeps the reader engaged with her challenging insights and ideas. In Griffiths, wilderness has found an eloquent new champion.”
Mark Cocker, The Guardian

“It's as though, arm in arm, James Joyce and Dylan thomas went out to find the deep meaning of wilderness."
Sydney Morning Herald

“One of the greatest and most radical travel books of the past 20 years.”
The Age

“A passionate and poetic evocation of the beauty of nature, of sensuality, life, death and humanity, of how wilderness and language are entwined, and of how living truly wild is also an exploration of the greatest of all uncharted lands – the mind.”
New Statesman

“Remarkable, impassioned meditation and world-roving travelogue, exhilarating, high-risk stuff, thrumming with unbridled erotic charge, learned and poetically pagan, a geographical and emotional journey of extraordinary range. Nobody can fail to be enriched by this book's wealth of observation and description, a memorable appeal to live for the now, and in the fullness of the senses.”
Sunday Telegraph

“Start with Wild ,which does just what it says in the title: takes off on an exhilarating, freeflowing, free-spirited exploration of the wild places of the earth and the wilderness of personal feelings not yet wholly lost to us but which most of us lack the courage to find.”
Summer Reading in The Times

“This magnificent, beautiful book should reset your perceptions of the world. At times, it's delightfully funny, outrageously rude and deeply sad, but it never loses sight of the central message that wilderness is vital."
Geographical magazine

“Dazzling gift and fascination for language ... this is a hungry,brave, all-consuming book, jumping with life, littered with perceptions and understandings, written by a woman who has engaged deeply with her subject and addressed it with warmth and vigour.”
Adam Nicolson, The Spectator

“Insightful, effervescent and lavishly written…She shrouds her amazingly strenuous physical journey with a rich literary penumbra.  The book has a profusion of historical allusions and a fertile bibliography; the vivid, excited writing draws haunting, lovely connections among multiple cultures, landscapes and ideas.”
Ruth Padel, The Washington Post

“An exuberant and erudite exploration of the meaning of wilderness and its place in our lives… Griffiths' love for words and her skill in using them, her easy familiarity with a host of poets, novelists, naturalists and anthropologists, her openness to new experiences and her willingness to reveal so much of herself, make this a fascinating journey.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A book of staggering power, honesty and wit”
BBC Wildlife Magazine

“A fine compendium of insights and annotations: the culmination of a seven-year, world-walking odyssey to delve into the deep meaning and wide paradox of wild landscape and wild mind.”
Gretel Ehrlich , author of This Cold Heaven and The Solace of Open Spaces

“Jay Griffiths brings fierce conviction and impressive scholarship to her work, great erudition and a real sensitivity to language… a gifted writer.”
Publishers Weekly

“Like Henry David Thoreau, Jay Griffiths wants to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life….an immersionist… [her] research is impressive… [her] writing dexterous and lush… a passionate plea for the preservation of wilderness.”
New York Times

Wild is precisely the right name for this book – it goes deeper into the experience of actually living on our home planet than almost any book I've ever read. It's full of wonderful, funny, scary insight about what this body and mind of ours was built by, and for.”
Bill McKibben , author of The End of Nature

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