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Books by Zoë Brân

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Travel Articles, Talks, Photography

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A Phoenix Rising: Impressions of Vietnam

‘thoughtful, informative and very personal’,

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Dark Ruby: Travels in a Troubled Land

'This highly informative and readable book may be the closest you’ll get to Burma for a while’, Oxford Times

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After Yugoslavia

'Bran is an excellent observationalist; her descriptive prose is breathtaking; her non-sentimental but empathetic dialogue and use of personal anecdote extremely moving. … After Yugoslavia is a sophisticated, captivating and morally responsible piece of travel literature …’ Leeds Guide

Complex, full of conflicting voices and often extraordinarily beautiful.’ Kirkus Reviews, USA


In 1978 Josip Broz Tito, father and protector of the nation, still lived in a palace in Belgrade. His Yugoslavia was large, prosperous, and geographically and culturally diverse; yet it was easy to travel through Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, as I did that September, believing you were in one country. Compared to provincial Britain it was paradise. Locals and tourists alike enjoyed good food and drink, and cheap public transport. For Westerners, there was the added frisson of lifting the hem of the Iron Curtain.

Yugoslavia had everything: high mountains and long coastlines; turquoise rivers and emerald forests; romantic castles and classical ruins; ancient churches and mysterious stones . . . and the place where the history of the twentieth century changed for ever. Where else in the world could state so categorically that here on this very spot, in the time that it takes to lift an arm and press a trigger, the direction of the world was knocked off course? The Gavrilo Princip Bridge in Sarajevo became my destination in 1978, not from ghoulish sentiment but because the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Serb nationalist Princip, the inciting incident of WWI, was almost the only thing I knew about Yugoslavia back then.

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Enduring Cuba:

‘Zoë Brân brings to life the colour and rhythms of the beautiful Caribbean island … Enduring Cuba shows Brân’s growing maturity as a travel writer.’ The Budapest Sun


At seven I look out at the roofs of Santiago de Cuba and at the Sierra Maestra for the last time. A woman is sweeping the backyard of a house just below my hotel window; she must have some kind of sixth sense because as I look down she looks up at me, her figure framed by white and blue convulvulus hanging from the Spanish tiles. Nothing else moves and I realise how much I enjoy urban landscapes before they wake, the potential for noise and movement still arrested in sleep. Thick, pearly mist rolls down out of the mountains, much as Lina Ruiz' sons did in 1958; it moves into the deep cracks in the face of the Sierra Maestra, smoothing and caressing. And overhead the sky is blue - absolutely, immaculately blue.

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Zoë's current project Leaving Great Rome is a travel book about the Appian Way in Southern Italy. It weaves contemporary travel experience with the fictionalised autobiography of a famous traveller who took the Appian Way in its heyday.