Picador are delighted to have won a strongly-contested auction to publish Guy Stagg's breathtaking account of a modern pilgrimage, The Crossing.
Simultaneously a memoir about a physical journey – a walk from Canterbury to Jerusalem along an old pilgrimage route – and a meditative reflection on the wider idea of pilgrimage, The Crossway was a runner-up for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writer's Award in May 2016.
Kris Doyle, Senior Commissioning Editor at Picador said:
'I read The Crossway in a single sitting, immediately captivated by the charm, generosity, and candour of Guy Stagg's voice. This extraordinarily thoughtful and assured debut excited readers across the whole company for so many reasons: the spellbinding quality of the prose, the emotional power of the personal story, the vivid evocation of an incredible journey. I'm sure it will find a wide readership and herald the beginning of a brilliant career; Picador couldn't be more delighted to be publishing it.'
The Crossway is an account of Guy Stagg’s ten-month walk to Jerusalem. The author sets off from Canterbury on New Year’s Day, telling his friends and family only that he will be home before the year’s end.
He follows medieval pilgrimage routes through Western Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East, covering more than five thousand, five hundred kilometres. He crosses the Alps in the depths of winter, spends Easter in Rome with the new Pope, witnesses the summer protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, and survives the August 2013 bombings in Tripoli. Each night he stays with monks, nuns, priests, and families, gaining a rare insight into the lives of contemporary believers.
Partly conceived as an attempt to rebuild himself after several years of mental illness, the pilgrimage forces Stagg to test the strength of his recovery. It also leaves him wondering: what power might ritual have today for someone without faith?
The Crossway is full of head- and heart-expanding wonders: the perfectly observed sights of a changing landscape, the fascinating reclamation of marginal history, the thrill and shock of perilous adventure, and the encounters with fellow pilgrims that leave Stagg amused, bemused, and, at times, moved.
This a beautiful, inspiring book that will show readers the world afresh and leave their hopes renewed.
Guy Stagg said:
‘Travelling between the pilgrim capitals of Christianity gave me a unique perspective on the religion, which endures despite the decline of belief in Western Europe and the exodus of Christians from the Middle East. Though a non-believer, I began walking after a troubled time in my own life, and found surprising consolation in the ritual of pilgrimage. I’m thrilled that Picador responded to the book with such enthusiasm, and that I will now have the chance to share my journey with others.’
Zoë Waldie at RCW said:
‘When I first read Guy’s pages I was absolutely held by the quality of the writing and the extreme and unusual journey he describes; his account taps into many contemporary concerns and yet feels timeless. We were then delighted to see him on the inaugural DRF Award shortlist, not least because I’m sure Deborah would strongly have approved of this. Now at Picador he has a passionate and talented team committed to ensuring his book reaches the many readers it deserves.’
Guy Stagg was born in 1988 and grew up in Paris, Heidelberg, Yorkshire, and London. He read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and on graduating worked in politics. Later he was an assistant comment editor at the Daily Telegraph, and has also written for the New Statesman and the Literary Review.
Guy Stagg's The Crossing will be published in 2018.
Sign up to the Picador newsletter to be the first to hear all the latest news on our books, authors and events.