A young secular writer's journey along ancient religious pilgrimage routes in Spain, Japan and Ukraine leads to a surprise family reconciliation in this literary memoir
Gideon Lewis-Kraus arrived in free-spirited Berlin from San Francisco as a young writer in search of a place to enjoy life to the fullest, and to forget the pain his father, a gay rabbi, had caused his family when he came out in middle age and emotionally abandoned his sons.
But Berlin offers only unfocused dissipation, frustration and anxiety; to find what he is looking for (though he's not quite sure what it is), Gideon undertakes three separate ancient pilgrimages, travelling hundreds of miles: the thousand-year old Camino de Santiago in Spain with a friend, a solo circuit of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku, and finally, with his father and brother, a migration to the tomb of a famous Hassidic mystic in the Ukraine.
It is on this last pilgrimage that Gideon reconnects with his father, and discovers that the most difficult and meaningful quest of all was the journey of his heart.
A beautifully written, throught-provoking, and very moving meditation on what gives our lives a sense of purpose, and how we travel between past and present in search of hope for our future.
"Beautiful, often very funny... a story that is both searching and purposeful, one that forces the reader, like the pilgrim, to value the journey as much as the destination." New Yorker
"If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus" Gary Shteyngart
"Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written a very honest, very smart, very moving book about being young and rootless and even wayward. With great compassion and zeal he gets at the question: why search the world to solve the riddle of your own heart?" Dave Eggers
Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written for numerous US publications, including Harper's, The Believer, The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Slate and others. A 2007-08 Fulbright scholarship brought him to Berlin, a hotbed of contemporary restlessness where he conceived this book. He now lives in New York, but continues to find himself frequently on the road to other places.
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Number of pages: 384
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
Filled with wit, insight and hilarity -- Colm Toibin Guardian [Lewis-Kraus's] ear for dialogue is sharp and funny, his observations of others are astute without being cruel, his anxieties genuinely endearing... A Sense of Direction is a brave, honest work of self-reckoning -- Rebecca Abrams Financial Times Captures beautifully the seductive appeal of [Berlin's] Lotus-eating demi-monde -- Arthur House Telegraph Lewis-Kraus's sharp, reflexive insights on pilgrimage and its endurance among the secular, dovetail into a compelling family drama New Statesman Lewis-Kraus is an author with a keen sense of authenticity... There are shades of Geoff Dyer to the author's honest-slacker pose and hints of Chuck Klosterman to his verve and wit -- Toby Lichtig TLS A winning blend of earnestness, wit and high-octane intellect Observer A quirky, funny and ultimately moving account of a twenty-something man seeking purpose, order and acceptance... A Sense of Direction is more than a travel memoir and account of pilgrimage, it is a meditation on family, forgiveness and acceptance -- Jade Craddock We Love This Book A thoughtful, honest meditation on religion, family and self from a secular and thoroughly contemporary pilgrim... Lewis-Kraus may well have written the perfect travel memoir -- Bea Carvalho, Waterstones non-fiction buyer Bookseller Here is one of the best and most brilliant young writers in America GQ Beautiful, often very funny... a story that is both searching and purposeful, one that forces the reader, like the pilgrim, to value the journey as much as the destination. New Yorker Charming and disarming... a wonderful exploration of the stories we tell ourselves The New York Times Style Magazine If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus -- Gary Shteyngart Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written a very honest, very smart, very moving book about being young and rootless and even wayward. With great compassion and zeal he gets at the question: why search the world to solve the riddle of your own heart? -- Dave Eggers A young writer seeks a cure for his fecklessness by following roads very much taken in this scintillating travel memoir... Publishers Weekly Physically, Lewis-Kraus' feats are staggering, but more so is how fully and fluidly he recounts them, alongside meditation on his own youthful anxieties and a well-synthesized history of the act of pilgrimage Booklist A deeply intelligent, often funny memoir about finding a sense of purpose through walking in the centuries-old footsteps of religious pilgrims. ... also a sensitive and nuanced coming-of-age memoir about fathers and sons, and about confronting the past in order to be free to move...into the future Booklist Nails our collective anxiety - every sentence rings true... Lewis-Kraus is a master Daily Beast Thought-provoking and engaging in the style of Bruce Chatwin or Paul Theroux, with ample sides of Thomas Menton and Augusten Burroughs Kirkus This is a brilliant meditation on what the spiritual and fraternal and paternal and communal might mean to a person right now, fueled as it is by the funny, thorny, dreamy... truth-seeking voice of Gideon Lewis Kraus Sam Lipsyte