Journeys without a map: a writer’s life

long-listed for the Memoir Book Prize, 2022

A fascinating story about the journey of a writer of fiction. I read the first 115 pages without pause and then was worried that there weren’t going to be enough pages still to read because I didn’t want the book to end. It’s the interplay between the writer’s real life and her imagined characters and situations that make this such a completely intriguing book. – Gay Morris, Professor of Drama, Cape Town

An amazing story, compelling and written with great pace. I was swept along by the details of the actual journeys – the hazards, adventures, happy or unhappy coincidences- and the writer’s journey as well. A moving and humbling experience. If you’re looking for insight into what makes us human and to the transformative power of literature and story-telling, this is the book and the writer to read.Carol A. Caffrey, Actress & poet, Shropshire

Marion Molteno is one of the finest writers working today, and this book is a treasure that offers insight into the making of her fiction. As with all her books, I find myself inside the very real experience of a thoughtful humanitarian whose values and sensibilities are badly needed in the world today.Marylee MacDonald, Writing coach, Arizona

What a brave book this is – laying bare levels of feelings, thought and creativity, that though beautifully written still feel quite raw. We learn a lot about her but also about writing and being an author. A wonderful achievement. – Gregory Lanning, Documentary film director, London


What readers say

Engaging all the way through. Her vivid way with detail makes for equally fascinating reading whether she is getting lost coming out of the metro station in Delhi, describing inspirational women who have influenced her, narrating moving refugee stories, or reflecting on the writer-reader relationship. – Linda Wright, London

This daring book reveals why Marion Molteno is as successful as she is in her endeavours. She overcomes a natural modesty and treks out into the world carrying her hope in a kit bag … She is a master of tone. She neither over or under-describes, while keeping resonances through words and entire passages. the reader’s imagination fills the rest of the space. – Mary Clark, New York

A wonderful book – extraordinarily diverse and fascinating – different countries, cultures, languages, people, poetry. Gives a real insight into what goes into creating an important novel, and because she’s a great story teller, whether it’s Shropshire or India it holds the same fascination. – Nicky Road, London

A gem of a book, and like no other, taking us to places familiar and places unknown to most of us. The journeys are deeply flavoured and spiced, intensely coloured, and full of the variety of scents, personalities and poetry of Africa and the East. Take the journeys with her, without a map! – Helen Cooper, Hampshire

As fascinating and evocative as her fiction – perceptive, intelligent, drawing on a rich multicultural set of personal experiences and a love of languages, music and poetry that adds a richness to her work. It’s written with her characteristic openness and honesty, and her values are at the core – her growing recognition that she can ‘tell stories in a way that helps those who read them empathise with situations other than their own.’- Jen Marshall Haugen, Angola


Jen Marshall Haugen, international development worker, interviews me about the book & my writing life: