Walks around the World

Illustration: Lucia Mooney-Martin

EVERY WALK– whether urban or rural, real or imagined — features the movement of one or more persons on foot through a particular place and some manner of dialogue that unfolds either between characters or in the narrator’s own head. Beyond that, anything can happen. From an editorial perspective, the walk is a universal narrative device for exploring a diverse sampling of cultures and places, ideas and environments. Which is why Orion teamed up with Words without Borders to jointly commission and collaterally publish a collection of short pieces, each written in a language other than English and translated, about a walk taken, remembered, or invented. Five of these pieces appear here, in the pages of Orion. To read the balance of the selections, readers are directed to the September issue of Words without Borders, which can be found at wordswithoutborders.org/internationalwalks.

“Go,” by Tomas Espedal, translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson

“First Solo Walk,” by Manik Datar, translated from the Marathi by the author

“The Ascent of Butterfly Mountain,” by Homero Aridjis, translated from the Spanish by Betty Ferber

“Hisht, Hisht!…” by Sait Faik Abasıyanık, translated from the Turkish by Ufuk Özdağ

“The Safekeeping of Names,” by Yuri Rytkheu, translated from the Russian by Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse

Homero Aridjis is a Mexican poet, novelist, environmental activist, journalist and diplomat. Some of his work includes Persephone1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castile, and The Lord of the Last Days: Visions of the Year 1000. As a pioneer of Mexican civil society, Aridjis played a crucial role in raising environmental awareness and promoting public participation for solving environmental problems, as well as defending freedom of expression about environmental matters.


  1. Walking is poetry & philosophy! A bit like adapting to the pace of your own thoughts while adapting to the pace of nature – a mind’s stroll…
    Writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau or John Muir were drawn to nature and simplicity and most of them probably favoured walking over talking.
    While I see the link to Espendal. He wrote a really interesting book about his own need to explore on foot in “Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life”. Quite a meditative account…

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