Manchán Magan

 
 

Reviews of Manchán's Travels: a journey through India  - short, for full reviews see here

 

"The book's scope embraces the sublime and the ridiculous...What saves this account from absurdity is the writer's respectful handling of his material. While the narrative is often humorous, at times hilarious, Magan never opts for a cheap joke at the expense of the situation he is describing. Moreover, there is no breathless backpacker prose: he has an evocative and elegant turn of phrase...Most intriguing are the sporadic discourses on Irish history and the Gaelic language. While these may seem jarring in a book about India, the two cultures are in fact skilfully interwoven. The ability to bring together such disparate elements with such lucid conviction is key to Magan's skill as a writer." Hannah Davies, New Statesman

 

"His fans will not be disappointed...While the local colour is entertaining, it is the writer's personal journey that makes this book so compelling. It's a funny an occasionally sad, but ultimately satisfying read." Clover Stroud, Sunday Telegraph

 

"Magan has a keen eye for the hypocrisies of elite urban India and artfully evokes the 'fevered serenity' of the Himalayas" Hirsh Sawhney, TLS

 

“A travelogue that soon develops a subtle and steely narrative grip from early on. Each encounter is marked by open-mindedness and honesty. The humour is subtle and pleasantly unforced, and the effect of all of this is like having a close up experience of his TV documentaries with added bite. There is a tremendous sense of being immersed in a culture without being swamped; a sensual panoply which ebbs and flows through a narrative that is vivid without being showy. The effect is of being brought along for the ride, and having your eyes opened without feeling alienated. It's Michael Palin as gaeilge; gently determined, inquiring, and refreshingly free of narcissism." Padraig Kenny, Sunday Tribune

 

“A road trip unlike any we've ever seen. It''s down to Magan's off-the-beaten track approach. He's out there, but, somehow, he manages to ground outlandish experiences in reality, making his quest, for example, to find a 2,000-year-old immortal yogi seem quite plausible. Magan's writing is as unique as his TV style; endearing and honest, his personality shining through. He succeeds in bringing the Indian landscape, the country, to life, but his real talent lies in the people. At heart, this is a story about the personalities the brothers encounter and Manchan succeeds in bringing them all, zany as they may be, to life. The title - Manchan's Travels - suggests this is the first in a long series of travelogues. They are most welcome." Vicky Mayes, Irish Independent

 

"Often referred to as a global nomad, he possesses that true spirit of adventure which most of us can't come close to due to an innate fear of stepping outside the comfort zone...Clearly not your run-of-the-mill travel book, this is more a highly personal study of Indian society, from those in the upper echelons of the world's largest democracy to those on the fringes... Magan's astute observations of the people and their religious beliefs, and his ability to capture the myriad sights, sounds and smells of this vast cultural Mecca, envelop the reader. His honesty in confessing his innermost thoughts is refreshing and he provides frequent hilarious anecdotes...a relaxed but practical, intelligent and informative approach...Magan is a free thinker whose wit and insight will inspire travellers of every kind to cast off the hamster-wheel experiences provided by guide book bibles and take a step into the unknown. A thoroughly rewarding and entertaining read" Darragh O'Molloy, Irish Daily Mail

 

“The best part of this book is not the unique stories told (though they are fascinating and present you with an India you’ll never get in your Lonely Planet), but the way the Westmeath man recounts his experences.  Mocha proves to be deeply funny without even trying, and he lays his soul so  bare you could die of embarrassment at times.  Mocha ‘on the road’ makes for one unforgettable adventure.”  Shelley Marsden, The Irish World.

 

“The blurb makes it sound like an acid-fuelled journey through the sub-continent, a kind of Fear and Loathing in New Delhi, promising murderous environmentalists, sex-obsessed yogis and mind-reading children. The introduction of the book does little to dispel this impression . . . Magan tells us that he always tries to discover the “national consciousness” of a country he documents. In A Journey Through India he does this, to such an extent that the book is a fascinating introduction to the minds of the people.” Tom Rowe, Village Magazine

 

“An irresistible read. From beginning to end, I chortled, chuckled, gasped and held my breath. Well done! Let’s have more of it. What a tale, what a tale. Miss it at your peril.” Gerry Ryan. RTE Radio 2

 

"as off-beat as it is entertaining, taking a look at the often surreal nature of life in modern India" Traveller, Autumn 2007

 

I picked this book up in the car while stuck in Dublin traffic and immediately became so engrossed that I missed two sets of lights and nearly got ripped asunder by an enraged BMW driver. He felt that I was so out of line that he was obliged to get out of his car and shake his fist at my window. I locked the doors and tried to look nonchalant. Meanwhile I was stealing glances at the book on the passenger seat, itching to get back to reading about the benefits of drinking your own urine, gay leper hermaphrodites, and about how Magan became a TnaG TV presenter while on a consciousness trip in India.

Magan writes to beautifully and engagingly that I am gutted to have reached the end. Five of my friends are waiting to read it. All of them tried to run away with it while I was stuck in. Everyone who is going to India, everyone who has been to India and indeed everyone who never plans to go to India should read this book.

Magan is a travel writer, documentary maker, and radio and TV presenter. You’ll hear him on the Big Adventure on RTE Radion 1 on Monday nights at 10pm. He he talks to oddballs, misfits, lunatics and thrill seekers who make the world a more colourful place through their adventures. He also presented the TV show No Béarla, where he tried to survive and communicate in Ireland by using Irish alone. You can watch the highly entertaining NO Bearla on You Tube. Tom Burke, Outsider Magazine


Short Reviews of Truck Fever, a Journey through Africa..... for full review click here

 

‘More extreme travel from the author of Angels And Rabies, in which Magan goes by truck from London to Nairobi with a group of, well, 'eccentrics' is the kind word. As you'd expect it's comic and gruesome in equal measure.’ Scotsman.

 

‘Riding in the back of a truck from London to Nairobi, sharing your journey with 18 strangers … sounds like hell on wheels. If you've read any of Manchán Magan's travel adventures before, though, you'll appreciate it's the kind of situation his writing thrives on. A little like Jon Ronson, but without the faux naivety and tendency to wheedle interminably.’ Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski, The Independent.

 

‘Magan is undeniably an excellent writer, and has a wonderful talent for transporting the reader into the heart of every experience, from the heavily mint-scented Atlas mountains in Morocco to the worst, intestine-churning suffering of having dysentery in Niger. He is an intelligent observer of people and places, and his writing is sensitive and engaging.’ June Edwards, Sunday Tribune

 

‘His account of travelling through America, Angel’s and Rabies, was both funny and sensual. His latest book is an account of a truck journey from London to Mombassa with a group of drop-outs. The witch doctors, drug runners and missionaries they meet en route provide plenty of good stories, but by Magan’s own admission, these are little more than a “rapid series of superficial images” compared to the stormy dynamics of the group in the truck. Magan is especially good at conveying the traveller’s feeling of isolation within a crowd.‘ Clover Stroud, Sunday Telegraph.

 

‘Truck Fever is a rollercoaster of adventure, anecdote and fresh observations about the nature of Africa and what it means to travel through the dark continent.’  Cathal Coyle, Verbal Magazine

 

‘The best travel writing only improves with age, making the experience for the armchair adventurer both spatial and temporal. And Truck Fever is travel writing at its hair-raising finest. Apart from wanderlust, Manchan - or Mocha, as his fellow travellers refer to him as - is clearly on a personal, spiritual journey after the death of his father …  Magan is a good, pacey writer and his charm and instinct afford the reader that much width when it comes to sharing his own personal travails. You do care about him, and that's a wonderful thing.' Tom Galvin, Evening Herald

 

‘To call Truck Fever a travel book is a disservice to what is also a sociological study of a small, Intense and mostly screwed-up bunch of people, a psychological dissection of an extremely troubled young man who feels cast adrift from society and a political commentary on the legacy of colonialism and western exploitation in Africa. It is also a good old-fashioned adventure story where the reader is often left wondering – ‘how the hell is he going to get out of this one?’ Tony Bailie, Irish News

 

‘Most travelers don’t start off in Africa, the dark continent, and certainly not in Congo, the heart of that darkness, and definitely not cooped up on a truck with strangers. Manchán had a baptism of fire but his worst journey has given him his best book.’ Bridget Houricane, The Dubliner

 

‘This troupe of strangers on a six-month journey of discovery looked less like Stanley's band of explorers and more like performers in an odd replay of Lord of the Flies . . . On the road, they picked up additional extravagant figures like sex-starved Englishwoman Salade and hard-partying shepherd Mustafa. . . . Group dynamics and danger make for an engaging African adventure.’ Kirkus Review

 

‘This is a great read. It doesn’t lecture about how poor Africa is; it doesn’t slate the West for what we’ve done there; it doesn’t trot out the clichés. It provide a picture of a country that is not as backward as it might appear from here when we see the newsclips of disasters and famines there… It is a book that will be of as much interest to those fascinated by humans as to those fascinated by Africa. Manchán has two other travel books to his name, each as fascinating as the other. When you’ve read ‘Truck Fever: a journey through Africa,’ go looking for ‘Angels and Rabies,’ an account of his time in South America and Canada, and then ‘Manchán’s Travels: a journey through India.’ Eilis, Ryan, Westmeath Examiner

REVIEWS for ANGELS AND RABIES (short - for full reviews click here)

 

‘[Magan's] writing is unashamedly sensual and he has an engagingly confessional narrative voice; his adventures are as poignant as they are hair-raising. And while exposing the chaotic workings of his own soul, Magan reveals the underbelly of the colourful cultural and sociological jigsaw of these two great continents.’

Sunday Telegraph

 

‘This travelogue exudes an attitude that is unmistakably rock ‘n’ roll. Fuelled by the same wild abandon as Jack Kerouac, Magan journeys through the Americas with nothing but adventure on his mind.’

Stuart Clarke, Hot Press

 

"Magan lays bare his soul in this strange semi-autobiography about a backpacking trip to South America in the     1980s. Hollywood starlets, obsessive commune dwellers and colonic irrigation all feature. Frightening, funny and  lovable."

The Sunday Times Travel 

 

Mocha opens the book with a quotation that perfectly encapsulates this fascinating story. The charm of the book is that, no matter how wacky, the story is all about people. Faraway lands can be hard to visualise, even with detailed descriptions, but love and loneliness are things we can all relate to. Mocha's vulnerability and naivety make him likeable. Very strange, but very enjoyable.'

 Ireland on Sunday

 

Each chapter is gripping because truly insane things happen around the author: war breaks out in Ecuador; a famous Hollywood actress falls into his arms. Then there are the near death experiences . . . The book kicks into top gear when the protagonist, realising that the Amazon jungle is just around the corner, takes off on a bicycle to surrender himself to its mighty embrace. The ensuing adventure is the highlight of the book. It is a warm, well written and entertaining book which will keep readers happy this summer and maybe even inspire a few to book their passage to Colombia.’ Village Magazine

 

‘A cross between Joseph Conrad and Frank Zappa.’ Gerry Ryan

‘Somewhere between Lost and Heart of Darkness.’ Ryan Tubridy

 

“His world is that of alternative societies and the picture that emerges is both disturbing and fascinating. Yet it is not without its farcical side, such as his falling in love with a Hollywood star whose identity he protects. His writing is intimate and immediate, perceptive and humorous.” BOOKS IRELAND

 

The lovable Manchán ‘Mocha’ Magan, described on the back cover as a ‘slightly unhinged young man’ here recounts his journeys to the Americas, North and South. Indeed, this is a surprisingly intense narrative. It’s chock-full of frenetic travel experiences with all the usual suspects: cult members, rabid dogs, druggies, indigenous people and Israeli backpackers. Mocha’s good-natured about most of the people he meets, although he has a certain knack of damning with faint praise. The flurry of intense, psychedelic, emotional experiences can be overwhelming. There are more humourous parts, especially his dealings with the local environmentalist activists who consider themselves Sting’s righ-hand men. Then there is Mocha’s forced conscription into the Ecuadorian war effort in its brief border conflict with Peru (1994-95). All in all, this is never dull, and always genuine. Patrick Holden, Irish Homes