A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful
352 Pages, Hardcover
Gideon Lewis-Kraus grew up in New Jersey, of course, and has lived in San Francisco, Berlin, and Shanghai; for the moment he’s in New York. He has written for Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, n+1, McSweeney’s, and other publications. A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful is his first book.
You traveled to three pilgrimage destinations designed for religious purposes, but you weren’t pursuing religious absolution. Without a specific religious goal, were the destinations completely arbitrary?
The Camino de Santiago is an orchestrated, touristic experience, but in Japan you were in a foreign, rural place with very little pilgrimage infrastructure. Being confronted with this contrast led you to break down the distinctions between tourism and pilgrimage. How do you differentiate between the two?
Unlike a religious story, your story doesn’t have a dramatic resolution. How did you deal with the lack of a climactic conclusion to your real-life experience?
One thing that impressed me about your book is how accurately it describes the Berlin experience for young people. You capture a feeling that’s in the air here, the restlessness, the reasons people come to the city, and the reasons they leave. Was it living in Berlin that made a pilgrimage necessary?