Author(s): Jean-Paul Kauffmann
Courland is an entity that no longer exists. With the Gulf of Riga to the north, the Baltic to the west and Lithuania at its southern border, and now part of modern Latvia, the region was by occupied by Nazi Germany and returned to Soviet Russia after the war, remaining largely inaccessible until 1991. Once ruled by descendants of the Teutonic Knights, it is now a nowhere land of wide skies and forests, deserted beaches, ruined castles and ex-KGB prisons. For years Jean-Paul Kauffmann has been irresistibly drawn to this place, the buffer between the Germanic and Slav worlds. His digressive travels at the wheel of a Skoda become an investigation into the whereabouts of a former lover, a search for an excavator of tombs, and he follows in the footsteps of Louis XVIII, for whom Courland was once a place of exile. Author of Voyage to Desolation Island and The Dark Room at Longwood - 'a remarkable book which defies classification' (New Statesman), which won six prizes on its publication in France - Kauffmann has come to be known as an erudite and witty observer of the world's most desolate reaches.
Jean-Paul Kauffmann is the author of The Dark Room at Longwood (1999), an exploration of Napoleon's exile on St Helena, Desolation Island (2001) and Wrestling with the Angel (2003). He was a journalist until 1985, when he was kidnapped in Beirut and only released three years later. Since then he has been editor of both Amateur de Bordeaux and Amateur de Cigare magazines. Euan Cameron's translations include works by Julien Green, Simone de Beauvoir and Paul Morand, biographies of Marcel Proust and Irene Nemirovsky, and most recently Monsieur Linh and His Child, by Philippe Claudel.