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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

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.

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.

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.