Into the Heart of the Himalayas
The gestation of this book has been almost 20 years, but the wait has been worth it.
The author, now a curator at the National Museum of Australia, was born in Belfast but moved with his family to Canada in the 1970s.
He was an experienced trekker, particularly in the Himalayas, and he had learned Tibetan and Hindi when he decided to undertake a 2700 km trek through the Western and Central Himalayas.
That four-month walk was between Pakistan, Tibet, India and Nepal. In addition to his 20-kilogram backpack and waterproof jacket, the author wore just one pair of hiking boots.
The trek began in August 1995 in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Over the next four months it would take him through the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu regions of the Himalayas. He kept detailed diaries, noting particulars of landscape, crops, people and their religions, but even after he had completed the trek and had written his account, he was dissatisfied.
Some years and several drafts later, he showed his manuscript to an editor friend who noted that there was something missing that seemed to be in the background.
Lineen realised that the ‘something’ was the drowning death of his younger brother, Gareth, seven years before he made that epic walk.
By including references to Gareth – his life and death, and including him in this almost meditative, poetic account of those great mountains – the book gained the life it needed.
Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville