Home2018-03-19T03:04:41-07:00

NEWS

Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards Winners

We're pleased to announce the winners of the Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Story of the Year. Grand Prize winner Erin Byrne collected $1000 and the gold award for “Our Ravaged Lady,” her powerful evocation of Notre Dame Cathedral’s symbolism for generations of the French people and for herself personally. Amanda Castleman won the silver award and $750 for “Love in a Time of Abundance,” her poignant account of vanishing cultures and our own mortality on a safari in Botswana. Tom Miller and Chase Nelson shared the bronze award and $500, Tom for his inspirational profile of the “best guitar maker in Cuba” in “Cubana Be, Cubana Bop,” and Chase for his dramatic tale of life and death and conquest en route from Machu Picchu in “Dark Train to Cusco.” Here’s the complete list of winners. Read the Grand Prize Silver winning story in our Editors' Choice section, below.


Now Available: The Creative Spark

We're very excited about Michael Shapiro's latest collection of interviews, The Creative Spark, on the subject of creativity. In it he talks with 32 of our most inventive individuals from the worlds of music, literature, film, exploration, and cuisine about their process and what creativity means to them. Each chapter is prefaced by a short biography. Among those interviewed: Smokey Robinson • Barbara Kingsolver • Francis Ford Coppola • Jane Goodall • Amy Tan • David Sedaris • Graham Nash • Pico Iyer • Joan Rivers • Merle Haggard • Lucinda Williams • Frances Mayes • Judy Collins • Melissa Etheridge • Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson • Lyle Lovett • Robert Earl Keen • Dave Alvin • SF Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow • Jerry Garcia Band keyboardist Melvin Seals • Ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro • and many more. Order a copy now!

NEW BOOKS

French Like Moi (Coming July 7)

“I laughed until my sides hurt at Carpenter’s lighthearted and self-deprecating take on living in l’Hexagone.” —Kimberley Lovato, author of Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves

When Scott Carpenter moves from Minnesota to Paris, little does he suspect the dramas that await: scheming neighbors, police denunciations, surly demonstrators, cooking disasters, medical mishaps—not to mention all those lectures about cheese! It turns out that nothing in the City of Light can be taken for granted, where even trips to the grocery store lead to adventure.

Everything is grist for Carpenter’s mill. In eighteen tales, he lifts the curtain on what passes for normal in Europe’s most glorious capital: neighbors who plot to murder one another, hiccups in transportation, bizarre store exchange policies, operatic dramas in the condo association, healthcare à la française, underground labyrinths, and even terrorism. In the company of a cast of recurring characters, he leads us through the merry labyrinth of the everyday, one hilarious faux pas after another. Through it all, Carpenter, winner of Mark Twain House Royal Nonesuch Prize for humor, keeps his eye on the central mystery of what makes the French French (and Midwesterners Midwestern).

The Creative Spark

“Michael Shapiro’s finely tuned, informed and intimate interviews strike to the heart of the matter.” —Tim Cahill, author of Hold the Enlightenment

The Creative Spark is a collection of interviews with some of the most creative people of our time: musicians, writers, visual artists, explorers, and chefs. These makers speak about what drives them, what helps them to see the world in fresh ways, and what inspires them turn their visions into art.

During the past decade, Michael Shapiro has interviewed some of our brightest creative luminaries. Among the authors are Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, Pico Iyer, and Frances Mayes. His work as a music journalist has led to interviews with legends including Smokey Robinson, Lucinda Williams, Graham Nash, Lyle Lovett, Melissa Etheridge, Merle Haggard, and Jethro Tull bandleader Ian Anderson. And he’s spoken with creative masters in other fields, such as director Francis Ford Coppola and comedian Joan Rivers.

The Girl Who Said No

She Broke a 1000-Year-Old Tradition


Eighteen-year-old Franca Viola made history in 1966 as one of the first “#metoo” heroines of modern times, when she refused to go along with a centuries-old forcible marriage custom in Sicily. Having endured kidnap and rape, she publicly defied the expectation that she would marry the rapist to “restore her broken honor.” A social uproar occurred throughout the island—and beyond.

In Natalie Galli’s The Girl Who Said No, Viola’s remarkable story unfolds when the author arrives in Palermo to search for her, with little more than the memory of a tiny article she had spotted two decades prior. Galli wanted to know: whatever had become of this courageous girl who had overturned an ancient, entrenched tradition?

Throughout her search for the enigmatic Franca, Galli shares her own poignant and hilarious observations about a vibrant culture steeped in contradiction and paradox. Does she succeed in locating the elusive proto-feminist whose case forever changed Italian culture and history? Travel along on Galli’s engaging odyssey to find out.

“Engrossing from the very first page. I was totally swept away.” —Lavinia Spalding, author of Writing Away

Strange Tales of World Travel

“This book contains some of the most astonishing tales I’ve ever encountered. One after another. They make for obsessive reading.” —Tim Cahill, author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh

“The entire point of travel is to encounter the unimaginable. Gina and Scott Gaille have collected some of the most remarkable tales to ever see the light of day. A hoot to read.” —J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen or experienced? Gina and Scott Gaille have traveled to more than 100 countries. Wherever they go, they ask this question. Strange Tales of World Travel recounts 50 of these amazing encounters, including:
  • Daring Diplomat, who ate the flesh of the venomous cobra bird in the Sahara Desert
  • Pearl Trader, who survived a fever through a harrowing "human honey" treatment in Oman
  • Agent Ghost, who was shot and left to die in a garbage dump in Africa
  • Death-Defying Instagrammer, who stepped on the tail of the world’s sixth most venomous snake in Australia to take a better photo
  • Human Pet, who became a prince’s prisoner in Qatar
  • Imperial CEO, who made a minion fly twelve hours to Paris from Abu Dhabi to buy clean underwear
  • Gorilla Doll, who broke the rules of visiting Rwandan gorillas and got dragged up the side of a volcano

Billy Gogan, Gone fer Soldier

New from Solas House Fiction: Billy Gogan, Gone fer Soldier

“...a sweeping epic saga of one Irish immigrant’s coming of age from boy to man.”
—John J. Kelly, Detroit Free Press reviewer

The adventures continue for Billy Gogan in this sequel to the award-winning novel Billy Gogan, American. Young Billy, an intrepid Irish-American immigrant, enlists in the U.S. Army on the eve of the Mexican-American War after fleeing New York for his life. Amidst the bloodshed he encounters the Texas Rangers, Ulysses S. Grant, and friends who fight alongside him. Billy navigates a dangerous path through gambling dens, wealthy estates, mysterious women, and sweltering heat. While challenged to follow meaningless orders, he struggles to escape a threat more imminent than war.

EDITORS’ CHOICE — This Week’s Story

Dark Train to Cusco

travelers-talesBy Chase Nelson

Grand Prize Bronze Winner (tie) in the Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards

A modern-day rescue mission raises questions of life and death.

With her husband looking on, we took turns pumping her heart for her, pushing blood to her organs, to her extremities, hoping for a gasp to bring her back, tearful and afraid, from wherever she was now.

Technically, they were called compressions. Less technically they were called rib-breaking, breast-exposing, desperate attempts at resurrection.