Writing well about the Camino de Santiago, the 800km pilgrims’ trail leading from southern France to the northwest of Spain, is not an easy trick to pull off. Curious spirits will find no end of guidebooks pointing the way (what to pack, where to stay), along with a smaller pile of academic studies on medieval pilgrimage and the architectural wonders of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St James the Apostle are said to lie. Or they could watch The Way, Emilio Estevez’s ploddingly earnest film about a group of modern-day pilgrims working their way through personal grief, weight loss and writer’s block. But good travel writing about the Camino, or any other pilgrimage for that matter, is rare.
Gideon Lewis-Kraus, a young Jewish American living in Berlin and frittering away his days in an endless round of gallery openings, all-night raves and encounters with smart (and occasionally unhinged) women, may not seem like an obvious contender