Discover The World In ‘The Best American Travel Writing 2021’

Shake off stay-at-home doldrums and instead dream of far-flung destinations by deep-diving into The Best American Travel Writing 2021, a new curated anthology of evocative and enlightening essays (published this month by Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers). Its well-crafted words will linger in your thoughts long after you’ve finished the closing chapter. This year marks the final edition of this annual best-of book series, which was brainstormed more than two decades ago by travel expert extraordinaire Jason Wilson, who has overseen its impressive literary life span.

Wilson penned the book’s compelling Foreword, opining about “the before times” — before COVID-19. The novel coronavirus’s impact on the travel industry and our ability to wander the globe at will has been significant. How to make sense of that overwhelming tsunami? Wilson muses about our roads ahead, discovering joy on fresh horizons. “What travel has taught me is that the things of the world are only ever temporary — though, once in a while, the temporary can become eternal,” he wrote. “I hope that we will be able to travel, to interact with and witness the world again in the near future. When we do, it will certainly seem strange. But when has travel not been strange? We don’t need a pandemic to show us that, but the pause we’re experiencing can highlight a basic truth: we may or may not walk this way again, and even if we do, we will never be precisely the same people who experienced the journey in the first place. Travel is only ever about a moment in time and space, but it’s also about how we choose to hold that moment in our memories. It is always both present and past.”

Thrillingly, this year’s guest editor is Padma Lakshmi — creator of the Hulu program Taste the Nation, a New York Times’ best-selling author and the host/judge/executive producer of Bravo-TV’s two-time Emmy-winning series Top Chef. Her heartfelt, insightful and very personal introduction to this book is engaging. Curl up with intriguing pieces, such as Jon Lee Anderson’s Wanderlust, Natalie Stoclet’s Can Travel Become an Addiction?, Latria Graham’s Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream and Intan Paramaditha’s On the Complicated Question Around Writing About Travel. This is an in-the-moment collection that also tackles the tumultuous routes infiltrated by the sneakily powerful virus, such as Paul Theroux’s A Fear-Filled Lockdown, Meghan Gunn’s I Decided to Leave, Doug Bock Clark’s Inside the Nightmare Voyage of the Diamond Princess, Jina Moore’s To the Doctor of Bujumbura’s Quarantine Hotel, Leslie Jamison’s The Warmth of a Lost World and Glynnis MacNicol’s The New York You Once Knew is Gone, The One You Loved Remains. Eat up Noah Galuten’s Food, It Turns Out, Has Little to Do with Why I Love to Travel and Bill Buford’s Good Bread. Be surprised by Ben Taub’s Five Oceans, Five Deeps, Sarah Khan’s In the City of Saints, Bathsheba Demuth’s Reindeer at the End of the World, Jim Benning’s Senegal’s Beating Heart and Amanda Fortini’s The People of Las Vegas. These and other richly quilted stories are threaded with fast flights, windows of opportunity, beautiful and befuddling byways, questionable paths, holding patterns and broadening quests. The Best American Travel Writing 2021 is an armchair traveler’s ticket to ride.