"Bowles, one of the four or five best writers in English in the second half of the twentieth century, embraced the desert as a Christian saint embraces his martyrdom. His self-abnegation and his love of traditional culture made him one of the keenest observers of other civilizations we have ever had in America. Unlike his countrymen he did not brashly set out to improve the rest of the world. For Bowles, Americanization was the problem, not the solution. As these startling, sober travel pieces show, Bowles, because of his powers of negative capability, was able to enter into the inner truth of even the most remote places and peoples."
-- from the Introduction by Edmund White...Continua