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Rory MacLean was born on November 5, 1953 in Vancouver and is a writer and traveller who divides his time between Great Britain and Morocco. As a child he drew maps of the world, filling the spaces between the countries he knew with imaginary lands and histories. After graduating from Upper Canada College in Toronto, he trained as a filmmaker and scriptwriter, working with David Hemmings and Ken Russell in London, Marlene Dietrich in Paris and David Bowie in Berlin. But Rory MacLean is a writer first and foremost. In 1989 he won The Independent inaugural travel writing competition and changed from screen to prose writing.

MacLean’s first book, Stalin’s Nose (1992), told the story of a journey from Berlin to Moscow in a Trabant and became a UK top ten best-seller, winning the Yorkshire Post’s Best First Work prize. William Dalrymple called it, ‘the most extraordinary debut in travel writing since Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia’. Colin Thubron considered the book to be ‘a surreal masterpiece’.
His second book The Oatmeal Ark (1997) followed, exploring immigrant dreams from Scotland and across Canada and inspiring John Fowles to write, ’Such a book as this rather marvellously explains why literature still lives’. It was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Then, when the chance arose to meet the Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, MacLean travelled to Burma. Under the Dragon (1998) tells the tragic story of the betrayed land and won an Arts Council of England Writers’ Award.
For his fifth book Falling for Icarus (2004), MacLean moved to Crete to hand build — and fly once — a flying machine to come to terms with the death of his mother and to examine the relevance of Greek mythology to modern lives. In his sixth book Magic Bus (2006) MacLean followed the hundreds of thousands of Western kids who in the Sixties and Seventies blazed the ’hippie trail’ from Istanbul to India.

MacLean is expanding the boundaries of travel writing by trampling the borders between fact and fiction. His distinctive work is in a literary genre of his own, a ‘hyper-real world’ not of travelogue or literal reality but of intense distillation of a journey. In all of his books he tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary men and women, and through fictional devices and creative aplomb enables the reader to empathise with their lives, society and times.

Links :

Rory MacLean’s official website

Bibliography :

  • Magic Bus (2006)
  • Falling for Icarus (2004)
  • Next Exit Magic Kingdom (2000)
  • Under the Dragon (1998)
  • The Oatmeal Ark (1997)
  • Stalin’s Nose (1992)