How true does travel writing need to be? With Rory MacLean and Luke Harding – books podcast

Rory MacLean is a travel writer who has been roaming eastern Europe, Asia and beyond for 30 years. His most recent book, Pravda Ha Ha, retraces the course he took through what had been communist Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – an extraordinary journey that became his bestselling debut, Stalin’s Nose. This time, his research leads him to take a hallucinogenic mushroom nicknamed for the current Russian president in company with an oligarch, fire assault rifles and a visit to the now infamous Internet Research Agency.

But how does non-fiction work in a world of “alternative facts”? MacLean came to the studio to talk with Claire Armitstead and Guardian foreign correspondent Luke Harding, whose book about the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, A Very Expensive Poison, has been transformed into a hit play at London’s Old Vic theatre.

Reading list

Pravda Ha Ha by Rory MacLean (Bloomsbury)

A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding (Guardian Faber)

Communist party supporters march in central Moscow on November 7, 2019



Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

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