Taras Grescoe

Taras Grescoe was born in 1967. He writes essays, articles, and books. He is something of a non-fiction specialist.His first book was Sacré Blues, a portrait of contemporary Quebec that won Canada's Edna Staebler Award for Non-Fiction, two Quebec Writers' Federation Awards, a National Magazine Award (for an excerpted chapter), and was short-listed for the Writers' Trust Award. It was published in 2000 by Macfarlane, Walter & Ross, and became a Canadian bestseller. Sacré Blues helped Taras fall in love with Quebec, and explained the origins of poutine to an eternally grateful country. The publisher let it go out of print, but used copies can be found starting at $89.23 on Amazon.His second book, The End of Elsewhere: Travels Among the Tourists (2003), which was published by McClelland & Stewart, involved a gruelling nine-month journey by foot, rented Renault, India railway 2A sleeper, and túk-túk, from one End of the Earth (Finisterre in Galicia) to the other (Tianya Haijiao, the End of the Earth in Hainan, China). An exploration of the origins and consequences of mass tourism, The End of Elsewhere saw Taras walking from west to east along a thousand-year-old east-to-west pilgrimmage route, stuffing his belly on a cruise ship from Venice to Istanbul, and observing the antics of sex tourists in the flesh-pots of Thailand. It failed to win any prizes in Quebec, but was nominated for a national Writers' Trust Award, and was then published to great critical acclaim in England by Serpent's Tail. The New Yorker called it "A gloriously trivia-strewn history of tourism."His third book, The Devil's Picnic: Around the World in Pursuit of Forbidden Fruit, was a real labor of love. Taras revived a post-adolescent interest in debauchery and (temporarily) turned it into a vocation, chewing coca leaves in Bolivia, scoring moonshine in Norway, and puffing on Cuban cigars in the smoke-easys in San Francisco. This one was published by Bloomsbury in New York, Macmillan in London, and HarperCollins in Toronto in 2005. The Picnic, critics seemed to agree, was a rollicking good read, with a serious subtext about the nanny state and the limits of individual liberty. It sold quite well, and was translated into German, French, Chinese, and Japanese, but didn't get nominated for anything. Apparently nobody wants to give writers prizes for having a really, really, good time (even with a serious subtext).As for his fourth and latest book, Bottomfeeder, he really shouldn't have to tell you about it. You're soaking in it.Taras is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Independent, and National Geographic Traveler. He has written features for Saveur, Gourmet, Salon, Wired, the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, Maclean's, Men's Health, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Times of London, and Condé Nast Traveller. He has prowled nocturnally in the footsteps of Dalî and Buñuel in Toledo, Spain for National Geographic Traveler, eaten bugs for The Independent, and substituted for William Safire in the New York Times Magazine. His travel essays have been published in several anthologies.He has twice been invited to appear at the Edinburgh Book Festival (where he learned to love brown sauce and vegetarian haggis), done the amazing Literary Journalism program at the Banff Centre (where he got the other writers ripped on authentic absinthe from the Val de Travers), and has led seminars on travel and food writing from the depths of Westmount to the heights of Haida Gwaii.He lives on an island called Montreal, which can be found at the confluence of the Ottawa and Saint Lawrence Rivers.


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