Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race

Lara Prior-Palmer. Catapult, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9482-2619-6
First-time author Prior-Palmer transforms from hopeless 19-year-old underdog into surprising champion of the grueling 2013 Mongol Derby in this exhilarating, visceral account of her attempt to win a 1,000-kilometer horse race across the Mongolian countryside. Driven by her own restlessness, Prior-Palmer, an English woman who had been working as an au pair in Austria, decided to enter the 10-day contest on a lark, unprepared for the arduous competition involving dozens of riders each racing a series of 25 wild ponies across Mongolia to recreate the horse-messenger system established by Genghis Khan. Struggling with an uncooperative pony at the beginning, the headstrong author battles GPS troubles (the devices show the participants straight line routes, rather than following the intended trails), minor nuisances (a group of boys chase and throw stones at her), and intense competition (she eagerly referred to logs at checkpoints to see who was ahead of her and by how long) as she discovers the race is as much an existential journey as it is a sports competition (“The race reclaims me as an animal—my original form, my rawest self, my favorite way to be”). Filled with soulful self-reflection and race detail, this fast-paced page-turner is a thrill ride from start to finish. (May)
Reviewed on : 01/11/2019
Release date: 05/06/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68457-154-3
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