Less passive than Bruce Chatwin and more generous than Paul Theroux,
Tsur Shezaf transverses the Silk Road and two thousand and something
years. He is not seeking horses and the culture of the West, that is
India, like the Chinese, nor does he want to peddle Christianity or do
business, like many before him who followed the road from west to east….
All doors opened before the writer bearing the British passport, the
Israeli “chutzpah,” the thirst for knowledge and the lust for adventure.
He accomplished it quickly and worked hard, and in happy contrast to the
few other travel books that have been published in Hebrew, he has also
done some reading. His swift and rhythmic prose – in which in which
short descriptions, bits of conversations, and cogent historical
summaries – punctuated by quotations, references names and extracts from
interviews — is a kind of courtesy: he who has heard, heard, he who has
thought, thought, and he who has not is also just fine. The signposts
Shezaf has handsomely though not bothersomely sown along the way will
make the reader think. Or not. It is possible to enjoy the energetic
musicianship even without puzzling out the staccato.
Anyone who has ever dreamt of Samarkand, Don Huang, Marco Polo, Ibn
Batuta, Benjamin of Toledo, Shuan Dzang,
Errol Stein, Bukhara or Kashgar knows at least in a general way what
motivates this book. And after quickly reading through its dense pages,
I can only thank Tsur Shezaf for doing so much to bring reality to these
magical names, and doing so without diminishing their enchantment.