Nicolas Bouvier (1929-1998) was born near Geneva. His father was a librarian, who encouraged his son both to read—among the books Bouvier devoured as a child were those of Stevenson, Jules Verne, Jack London, and Fenimore Cooper—and to travel. Bouvier studied for some years at the University of Geneva, but in 1953 he left without a degree to join his friend Thierry Vernet in the voyage to the Khyber Pass that is described in The Way of the World, published eight years later. Subsequent journeys took Bouvier to Sri Lanka (his experiences there inspired his one novel, The Scorpion Fish), Japan, and the Aran Islands (described in the books Japanese Chronicles and Journey to the Aran Islands and Other Places). Bouvier worked for many years as a photographer and as a picture researcher, spending much of his time hunting down obscure images in various libraries and archives. He was also a founding member, along with Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt and others, of Gruppe Olten, an informal organization of Swiss writers on the political left, and the author a slim book of poems, Le Dehors et le dedans (1982).
In 1953 two young men in Geneva hopped in their rusty old Fiat determined to drive their way to the Khyber Pass. Many years later, Nicolas Bouvier reconstructed their travels through Turkey, Kurdistan, Afghanistan in this luminous travel memoir filled with the romance of unbound youth and adventure of self-discovery.