In the Spring of 2012, reporter and travel junkie Justin Chapman threw his cares to the wind and, by himself, set off on an epic journey across eight countries in Africa — from Cape Town, South Africa, to Mityana, Uganda — by bus, train, and boat. Along the way, he narrowly escaped being locked away in a mental institution, visited an impoverished township that is changing its future with the help of an art-based nonprofit, got into a life-threatening car crash, dropped acid on the mystical island of Zanzibar, lived with a group of Catholic priests, witnessed a witchcraft healing ceremony, discovered a pygmy opium den, and chased down riveting stories with a local journalist. He crossed cultural boundaries, found love and companionship in unusual places, and stared death — with all its visceral stench and gore — directly in the eyeballs. Saturnalia is an engrossing cultural anthropological treatise like none other. By embarking on a journey of self-discovery and survival, Chapman explores what Africa really has to offer, and in the process, discovers surprising and unexpected relationships between people and places.
"The best and most arresting travel books are the ones that also take us on the author's inner journey. Justin Chapman's memoir is a perfect metaphor for contemporary American youth, painfully trying to work through its own baggage, and openly and sincerely seeking to engage with the world beyond the USA's established physical and cultural borders. Don't miss this one." —IRVINE WELSH, author of Skagboys and Trainspotting
"Chapman’s vivid prose turns every paragraph into a photograph of a strange, dangerous but alluring land. As his characters indulge themselves with sometimes reckless abandon, the author communicates a sense of adventure for adventure’s sake and draws the reader into riding along without hesitation." —Joe Piasecki, editor of The Argonaut Newspaper and former Los Angeles Times reporter
Justin Chapman grew up in Altadena, CA, and worked as a staff writer at the Pasadena Weekly. Saturnalia is his first book.