Lost Oasis (3 stars)


Lost Oasis (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)


Following in the footsteps of explorers such as Theodore Almasy, the inspiration for The English Patient, author and macho adventurer Robert Twigger decides to search for the lost oasis of Zezura. But this is no simple chronological quest tale. The catalyst for this search is his family’s move from England to Egypt and the book is as much about false starts, philosophical rumination and lyrical description as it is about adventure.

Unsure whether to proceed by car or foot into the desert, hampered by Egyptian bureaucracy and faced with one of the most arid and hostile environments on earth, Twigger initially joins an expedition led by Colonel Ghali, ‘a hard-ass with a bayonet-enhanced walking stick’. Later, Twigger heads out into deep desert with his mate Steve and a home-made wooden trolley. Reading Lost Oasis is a bit like encountering a mirage: at first glance it looks solid, but on closer inspection slides and shudders, paradise receding by the minute.

(Hannah Adcock)

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