Asian Absences: Searching For Shangrila
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Asian Absences is the contemplative and lyrical narrative of Wolfgang BuÌˆscherâ€™s travels across India, Singapore, Nepal, Cambodia and Japan. While in India, he visits an opulent palace and a fever forces him to take refuge in an abandoned hospital for lepers. Later, he embarks on an industrial oil tanker sailing from Dubai to Singapore. On a stormy day, a rickety boat takes him from Thailand to Phnom Penh. In Kathmandu, he joins a group of shamans on their way to the annual sacrificial feast on a mountaintop. He then examines the â€˜beautifully oddâ€™ curiosities of Tokyoâ€™s metropolis, before arriving at his final destination, the elusive and mythical city of Shangri-La.
BuÌˆscher vividly captures the conflicting emotional and intellectual responses of a stranger in distant lands, evoking both the exotic wonder and threatening otherness of unfamiliar cultures, that repeatedly challenge mythic assumptions about the East.
Asian Absences is a subtle and compelling investigation into the perils and rewards of leaving oneâ€™s comfort zone and journeying to unknown lands. By evading simple conclusions, BuÌˆscher impels the reader on a journey of enlightenment that is both troubling and beautiful.
Wolfgang BuÌˆscher heads the features desk of the German daily newspaper Die Welt. He was awarded the Johann-Gottfried-Seume- Literaturpreis (2003) for his book Berlin to Moscow: A Journey on Foot. The German president, Horst KÃ¶hler, praised him for travelling the world â€˜open-eyed and without prejudiceâ€™ when awarding BuÌˆscher the Ludwig-BÃ¶rne-Preis (2006) for his journalism.