How to write about Africa and Andorra

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Two outstanding new essays came floating to me across the ether this morning, both of which are written in the second-person imperative and both offer sharp, sardonic, and hilarious insight into the cliched craft of travel writing.

The first is the latest WorldHum.com essay by Rolf Potts: “The Art of Writing a Story About Walking Across Andorra: He traversed an entire nation in a long weekend. Now Rolf Potts shows how you can impress members of the opposite sex and write a textbook-perfect travel article in eight easy steps.”

The second, “How to write about Africa,” by Binyavanga Wainaina, appears on Granta.com and gives an African’s perspective on how the continent has been simplified, stereotyped, and otherwise mistreated by centuries of white writers.

Wainaina’s piece calls to mind some of the ideas expressed in Paul Theroux’s recent NYT op-ed piece, “The Rock Star’s Burden,” in which he derides misguided aid for Africa.

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