A journey – both historical and contemporary – among the fantastical landscapes, resourceful inhabitants and isolated tribes of the world's fourth-largest island of enduring fascination for its rich biodiversity: Madagascar.
An improbable world beckons. We think we know Madagascar but it's too big, too eccentric, and too impenetrable to be truly understood. If it was stretched out across Europe, the island would reach from London to Algiers, and yet its road network is barely bigger than tiny Jamaica's. There is no evidence of any human life until about 10,000 years ago, and, when eventually people settled, it was migrants from Borneo – 3,700 miles away – who came out on top.
As well as visiting every corner of Madagascar, John Gimlette journeys deep into its past in order to better understand how Madagascar became what it is today. Along the way, he meets politicians, sorcerers, gem prospectors, militiamen, rioters, lepers and the descendants of seventeenth-century pirates.
'The reader in search of a thoughtful adventure is in good hands. Gimlette brings a brisk barrister-like inquisition to proceedings, allied with amiable good humour and a searching interest in the history of peoples and places ... Intrepid to the last ... Rich in humour, full of insight and humanity, Elephant Complex is a very fine tribute to this enigmatic island nation' Spectator.
'Admirable in its candour ... Elephant Complex has a sting in its tail' TLS.
'Fabulously vivid and absorbing' Independent, on Wild Coast.
'Panther Soup is at once raw and erudite, deeply moving and strangely leisurely. It's also rich in black humour and insight' Guardian.
'As a born traveller and writer, he takes an epicurean pleasure in place and language' Sunday Telegraph, on Panther Soup