In Search of the Mythical Mountain
A brilliant fusion of travel writing with writing about science and religious scepticism.
Mount Ararat in Turkey is where, as biblical tradition has it, Noah’s Ark ran aground and God made his covenant with mankind. Now it stands astride the fault-line between religion and science, a geographical, political and cultural crossroads, bound up with the centuries-old history of warfare between different cultures in this region. Frank Westerman takes a pilgrimage from the mountain's foot to its highest slopes, meeting along the way geologists, priests and an expedition in search of the Ark’s remains, as well as a Russian astronaut who observes that ‘there is something between heaven and earth about which we humans know nothing’.
Ararat is a dazzling, highly personal book about science, religion and all that lies between, by one of Europe’s most celebrated young writers.
“Thought-provoking and beautifully written... the book is much more than a travelogue... Sam Garrett's excellent translation highlights both Westerman's skilful pacing and love of language... Westerman has achieved his aim - to climb the mountain - and has found, too, an answer of sorts to the question of how science and religion can coexist”
“A entertaining mix of memoir, meditation, history and travel”
“What separates Ararat from the hundreds of other books that have taken on this subject in the past few years is the poetic, novelistic logic behind the author's search... It is Westerman's calm intelligence and freshness of perspective that make his book so appealing”
“In this beguiling, digressive mix of travelogue, memoir, history and gentle philosophising, [Westerman] probes at the roots of his own sceptical fascination with the mountain...consistently fascinating and elegantly written”
“The result ... is a short book of stupendous richness and complexity... written with enough knowledge, craft and competence to keep the drowsiest of readers wide awake from first to last”
“Westerman proves a perceptive, passionate writer, with a line in memorable observations... He also pens excellent discursive sections”
“An episodic, discursive book... The book is studded with information, skilfully constructed and fluently written. The translation from the Dutch, by Sam Garrett, is relaxed and colloquial”
Independent on Sunday
“Westerman's personal voyage of understanding - philosophical, rational and spiritual - as he tries to reconcile the clarity of science with the gravity pull of faith is a humane one”
“Besides surmounting Ararat, the feat achieved by Westerman is aligning his style with the nature of religion”
Scotland on Sunday
“An ambitious and attractive book. Its tone is learned, thoughtful and usually intimate...a finely balanced and well-told experiment that will echo with many readers”