Asian Absences: Searching for Shangri-La

October 16, 2015

Asian Absences is the contemplative and lyrical narrative of Wolfgang Büscher’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 ‘beautifully odd’ curiosities of Tokyo’s metropolis, before arriving at his final destination, the elusive and mythical city of Shangri-La.

Büscher 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 one’s comfort zone and journeying to unknown lands. By evading simple conclusions, Büscher impels the reader on a journey of enlightenment that is both troubling and beautiful.

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