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 Gold winning story in our Editors' Choice section.


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

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.

The China Option

Sophia Erickson graduated from college with an apparently useless degree in European history. She faced crippling student loans, but after an anxious couple of months waiting tables in her small Massachusetts town, she bought a one-way ticket to China. Over the following two years she had deeply enriching cultural experiences, paid off nearly half her student loans, and visited China from Heilongjiang to Hainan, as well as neighboring countries Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore. The China Option: A Guide for Millennials: How to work, play, and find success in China is a manifesto for recent college grads to pay off debt while living a stimulating, adventurous life, and to pave the way for a successful future.  

100 Places in Cuba Every Woman Should Go

The secret is out: Cuba is the world’s sexiest, most magnetic travel destination. What isn’t a secret is that folks from around the corner and around the globe have been exploring and falling in love with the largest Caribbean island for decades. Now you can too with 100 Places in Cuba Every Woman Should Go, written from the unique perspective of a New Yorker who has called Havana home for more than 15 years. The 100 places profiled in this book are the result of decades of travel, research, and living in Cuba by a US journalist with uncommon access, ensuring travelers incomparable experiences. Much more than a prescriptive list, these narratives incorporate adventures and mishaps, insider opinion, slang, gossip, and conversations with Cubans during a historic shift that saw Soviet support evaporate, Fidel Castro take his final bow, economic reforms whiffing suspiciously of capitalism, and quasi-normalization with the United States. Author Conner Gorry deciphers the mysteries of Cuba while describing the country’s most alluring sites, sounds, and off-the-beaten track locales. Go with her and discover this magical island for yourself.

Baboons for Lunch

Author and explorer James Michael Dorsey has spent two decades visiting the world’s most remote tribal cultures. In Baboons for Lunch and Other Sordid Adventures, he tells his remarkable travel stories in rollicking accounts that keep readers off balance and eager for more. Many stories are funny, others are poignant, and quite a few are heart stopping, while others are unique insights into remote ways of life most of the world does not know exists. In this book the reader will climb a remote volcano in Ethiopia, cross the Sahara Desert with nomads, undergo a tribal exorcism, and visit shamans, healers, witch doctors, and holy men. This is not your average travel book, but an entree to some of the world’s remote corners and people.

La Dolce Vita University

Come travel with La Dolce Vita University (L◆D◆V◆U) to the heart of Italian culture in the seductive spirit of la dolce vita. L◆D◆V◆U is the perfect sampler to indulge anyone curious about—or already in amore with—Italy and its remarkably rich trove of cultural treasures. In dozens of entertaining yet authoritative mini-essays. L◆D◆V◆U lets you explore fascinating aspects of Italy’s cuisine, wines, history, art, architecture, traditions, style, legendary personalities, and so much more. The book is organized alphabetically, but nothing is ever quite that straightforward when it comes to Italy. Even if you choose to read these mini-essays sequentially, you may very well feel as though you’re wandering the mysterious alleys of a medieval town, the hidden vicoli of a larger city, or even along the serpentine canals of La Serenissima.

EDITORS’ CHOICE — This Week’s Story

Cubana Be, Cubana Bop

travelers-talesBy Tom Miller

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

The best guitar maker in Cuba.

Three events—baseball, Pope Jon Paul’s visit, and the Elián González case—exposed Cuba to the American public far beyond the embargo. Yet it was the improbable success of a handful of aging musicians that exposed a Cuba few knew and expanded the country’s audiences far beyond its bashers or its cheerleaders. The musicians went by the name of the Buena Vista Social Club, their music came from the 1950s and earlier, and their appeal was resolutely apolitical. On a visit to Havana, the American musician and producer Ry Cooder, not finding the musicians he sought, teamed up with Cuban producer Juan de Marcos to produce an album of exquisite sounds from another era.