The Hong Kong International Literary Festival

Travels in a Dervish Cloak: Evening Conversation with Isambard Wilkinson

 Travels in a Dervish Cloak was shortlisted for the 2018 Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the year and was a SpectatorDaily MailNew Statesman and Evening Standard Book of the Year.

“A discursive, funny, moving portrait of Pakistan, one of the most opaque and difficult and complex of countries, but here rendered in bright chiaroscuro and with obvious affection. It’s a brilliant debut by a major new talent.” – William Dalrymple, The Spectator

Date: April 23, 2018 (Monday)
Venue: Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty
Free admission

Drinks reception 6:30pm
Conversation 7:00pm
Q&A and book sale 7:45pm

Close 8:15pm

Spellbound by his grandmother’s Anglo-Indian heritage and the exuberant annual visits of her friend the Begum, Isambard Wilkinson became enthralled by Pakistan as an intrepid teenager, eventually working there as a foreign correspondent. Seeking the land behind the headlines, Bard sets out to discover the essence of a country buffeted by instability and political turbulence. What of the old, mystical Pakistan has survived and what has been destroyed? His funny, hashish and whisky scented travel book from the frontline is full of open-hearted delight and a poignant lust for life.

This is a free public event. Please register online here. For enquiries, please contact us at​

Isambard Wilkinson was born in 1971. As a young boy in Ireland, he listened to family stories of adventurous botanists and artists, sailors and soldiers who travelled through China and Africa, India and Albania. It fired an urge to roam. Expelled from school at 15, after university he was refused entry into the Royal Marines and instead worked for Country Life magazine before leaving to travel throughout Pakistan, an ambition curtailed by kidney failure. After a stretch on dialysis and his first kidney transplant, he became a foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Spain, and then in Pakistan, where he completed his travels, the subject of this book. He is now a journalist based in Hong Kong.


Qasim Nauman reported from Pakistan for a decade, writing on security, politics, foreign affairs and human rights for The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Newsweek, among others. He is currently an editor at the Asia-Pacific news desk of AFP in Hong Kong (Moderator). 

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