Out on 13 June 2019

The Crossway

Guy Stagg

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13 June 2019
352 pages

A BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week' in 2018.

'Moving and thought-provoking' Observer
‘An extraordinary travelogue, strange and brilliant’ i
'A beguiling portrait of one young man’s search into the hidden corners of Europe' Sunday Times

In 2013 Guy Stagg made a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem. Though a non-believer, he began the journey after suffering several years of mental illness, hoping the ritual would heal him. For ten months he hiked alone on ancient paths, crossing ten countries and more than 5,500 kilometres. The Crossway is an account of this extraordinary adventure.

Having left home on New Year’s Day, Stagg climbed over the Alps in midwinter, spent Easter in Rome with a new pope, joined mass protests in Istanbul and survived a terrorist attack in Lebanon. Travelling without support, he had to rely each night on the generosity of strangers, staying with monks and nuns, priests and families. As a result, he gained a unique insight into the lives of contemporary believers and learnt the fascinating stories of the soldiers and saints, missionaries and martyrs who had followed these paths before him.

The Crossway is a book full of wonders, mixing travel and memoir, history and current affairs. At once intimate and epic, it charts the author’s struggle to walk towards recovery, and asks whether religion can still have meaning for those without faith.

A sublime, intense, and intimate account of a journey that becomes a kind of dream in search of solace and, perhaps, even a kind of faith. As the author walks on, across a continent, through history, time, the natural and human world – and the spaces in between – it is hard not to believe you are there, by his side. Beautifully written, filled with strange encounters and extraordinary language, The Crossway is a meditation, an escape, a confrontation, a losing and a finding. It is a timely antidote to our disconnected times.

Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan and RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR

The extraordinary story of a pilgrimage to find out the meaning of pilgrimage. Completely absorbing, personal, often funny, and full of fascinating encounters - an enlightening book from an exciting new writer.

Sarah Bakewell, author of At The Existentialist Café

The journey is remarkable – a hike of thousands of miles across Europe, undertaken with rare bravery and stamina. But what is really extraordinary about Guy Stagg’s The Crossway is the writing – acutely sensitive, hyper-alert and unflagging in its exploration of the strange depths and by-ways of human belief

Philip Marsden, author of Rising Ground