Sylvain Tesson

Sylvain Tesson

  • France

Sylvain Tesson, born in 1972, has been traveling the world for over twenty years. He is a “écrivain-voyageur,” a traveling writer, that is to say, he bases a substantial part of his writing on personal experiences from the journeys on which he embarks. In other words, the way he observes the world as a traveler is evident in the style and content of his novels and short stories (as opposed to the genre of travel fiction, which does not necessitate the physical exploration of the world, but rather, sometimes, only a spirit rich with imagination). Upon completing his studies, Tesson embarked on a trip across the world on his bicycle along with his friend, writer and documentary filmmaker Alexandre Poussin. It is with this same friend that he crossed the Himalaya on foot (together covering 5,000 kilometers in five months!), and he also crossed the steppes of central Asia while horseback riding. All these expeditions, and many others, have given rise to an expansive body of literary work. Tesson is also an amateur archeologist, and it is this hobby that led him to participate in archeological expeditions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Between 2003 and 2004, he traveled by bicycle, on foot, and in vehicles to Siberia, Tibet, and India. This prolonged journey is also documented in his books. In 2010, he lived in complete seclusion in a cabin in south Siberia, on the shores of Lake Baikal. This period is depicted in his award-winning autobiographical book, The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga. Alongside his documentary-essay writing, Tesson also writes short stories and film reviews in various magazines. In 2009 he won the Prix Goncourt for short stories, and the Prix Médicis for essays. Among this adventurous writer’s many hobbies was roof climbing; but in August of 2014 he suffered a ten-meter fall, was severely injured and hospitalized in a state of coma, from which he awoke ten days later without brain damage. Tesson revealed in many interviews that this accident, which had taken a heavy physical and mental toll on him, had called into question the very urge to challenge death that has accompanied him throughout his life. His short stories are bursting with absurdity and humor, his writing is poetic, his language rich and well-honed. Reading Tesson is demanding and intense. His father is the acclaimed theater critic and television host Philippe Tesson.

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