Taran Khan wins Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year prize for ‘Shadow City’

Indian writer Taran Khan won the Stanford Dolman Travel Book Award of 2021 for her debut novel Shadow City: A Woman Walks Kabul on Friday.

The award, which is presented in collaboration with the Authors’ Club, is one of two prizes in the context of the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. It is named after Edward Stanford who published Stanford’s Guides and is sponsored by Stanfords, a travel book and map business founded in England in 1901.

Shadow City takes the reader on a journey through the streets of Kabul as Khan walks through the city and discovers a place very different from what she expected. It tells many stories, some around 3,000 year old ruins and poems, others as recently as 2013 about beauty salons, Parisian-style wedding halls and the life of Afghan filmmakers.

Read an excerpt from ‘Shadow City’ here

Khan’s Shadow City was among eight shortlisted entries for the award. These included The Border by Erika Fatland without ever reaching the summit by Paolo Cognetti, Wanderland by Jini Reddy, Traveling While Black by Nanjala Nyabola, The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts, Along the Amber Route by CJ Schuler and Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan Slaght.

Lucy Popescu, chairwoman of the authors’ club, described Khan’s work as “a profound, beautifully written meditation on an ever-changing city marked by war and whose people always hope for a better future”. “Taran takes us to Kabul,” added Popescu. “It moved me to tears.”

Julia Wheeler, presiding judge at Stanford Dolman, said, “We have enjoyed weaving Khan’s personal and family history with her observations and clear affection for the city. The fact that Khan’s travels were undertaken over several years creates the myriad faces of Kabul and their interactions with individuals create meaningful and unforgettable images for the reader. “

The Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year is one of the top two annual travel book awards in the UK and the only one open to all authors. The other award is the British Guild of Travel Writers, but it is limited to writers who are members of the Guild.

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