Ararat: In Search of the Mythical Mountain

Frank Westerman, Sam Garrett (trans.)

Ararat: In Search of the Mythical Mountain

"Ararat" is a breathtaking journey along the fault-line between religion and science, a pilgrimage by a non-believer that takes Frank Westerman to Mount Ararat where, as biblical tradition has it, Noah's Ark ran aground and God made his covenant with mankind. Mount Ararat is now a geographical, political and cultural crossroads, bound up with the centuries-old history of warfare between different cultures in this region.As Westerman stands at its foot it poses both a physical and a religious challenge: where is the God from my children's bible? Who or what has taken his place? Can one free oneself of a religious upbringing? He meets geologists, priests, and, on the mountain's high slopes, an expedition in search of the Ark's remains. And also a Russian astronaut who observes that 'there is something between heaven and earth about which we humans know nothing'. "Ararat" is a dazzling, highly personal book about science, religion and all that lies between, by one of Europe's most celebrated young writers. 4.1 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Ararat: In Search of the Mythical Mountain

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Religion & Spirituality, Travel
Format Hardback
Pages 224
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication August 2008
ISBN 978-1846550898
Publisher Harvill Secker
 

"Ararat" is a breathtaking journey along the fault-line between religion and science, a pilgrimage by a non-believer that takes Frank Westerman to Mount Ararat where, as biblical tradition has it, Noah's Ark ran aground and God made his covenant with mankind. Mount Ararat is now a geographical, political and cultural crossroads, bound up with the centuries-old history of warfare between different cultures in this region.As Westerman stands at its foot it poses both a physical and a religious challenge: where is the God from my children's bible? Who or what has taken his place? Can one free oneself of a religious upbringing? He meets geologists, priests, and, on the mountain's high slopes, an expedition in search of the Ark's remains. And also a Russian astronaut who observes that 'there is something between heaven and earth about which we humans know nothing'. "Ararat" is a dazzling, highly personal book about science, religion and all that lies between, by one of Europe's most celebrated young writers.

Reviews

The Scotsman

Marc Lambert

[A] consistently fascinating and elegantly written exploration

23/08/2008

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The Spectator

Alexander Waugh

The book (a fine translation from the Dutch by Sam Garrett) is unquestionably eccentric, but written with enough knowledge, craft and competence to keep the drowsiest of readers wide awake from first to last.

27/08/2008

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The Times

Iain Finlayson

A more idle-minded writer would have been happy to cobble together a sceptical take on the biblical myth with a breezy travelogue, but Westerman stylishly examines the geographical, political, religious and cultural status of Ararat in relation to history and his adult belief system.

23/08/2008

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The Sunday Times

Ed King

What separates Ararat from the hundreds of other books that have taken on this subject in the past few years is the poetic, novelistic logic behind the author's search. He anchors his thoughts, not to the main turning points of the 20th century, but to the traumatic events from his childhood. He quotes and interviews, not the great scientific and theological thinkers of the day, but the secondary-school teachers who had such a great impact on his outlook on life. It is Westerman's calm intelligence and freshness of perspective that make his book so appealing.

24/08/2008

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The Independent

Peter Stanford

Part memoir, part philosophical tome, part travelogue, Ararat is an ambitious and attractive book. Its tone is learned, thoughtful and usually intimate, for which part of the credit must go to the translator, Sam Garrett. Fundamentalists are fond of finding answers to every earthly dilemma, but those expecting either trite platitudes or the dodgy archaeological theories that make for headline-grabbing bestsellers will be disappointed. Westerman's pilgrimage doesn't have a happy or neat ending.

12/09/2008

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The Financial Times

John Cornwell

In 2005, [Westerman] embarked on a trip to Ararat to sort out his thoughts about faith, reason and the Bible. The result, Ararat, is an entertaining mix of memoir, meditation, history and travel, with a rather thin contribution to current squabbles over science and religion. The central, compelling theme is the fascination exerted by the ark, the discovery of which – in the minds of Christian fundamentalists – would give tangible credibility to the biblical account of creation and the flood.

11/08/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Seal

Westerman clearly likes to range widely; the problem is his book's 200-odd pages can feel uncomfortably crowded. Mount Ararat jostles for space with the various memoir strands, including a whimsical one that concerns Westerman's young daughter. His journey to the base of the mountain brings in the Armenian genocide, Ataturk, the Kurdish insurgency and Orhan Pamuk. Less excusable are a number of dull inclusions, not least an ongoing account of the bureaucracy entailed in securing a climbing visa, which only add to the impression of a book so swollen with uneven content as to burst its narrative banks.

12/09/2008

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