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The Gold Machine

In the Tracks of the Mule Dancers

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From the award-wining author of The Last London and Lights Out for the Territory, a journey in the footsteps of our ancestors.

In The Gold Machine, Iain Sinclair and his daughter travel through Peru, guided by – and in reaction to – an ill-fated colonial expedition led by his great-grandfather, Arthur Sinclair. The incursions of Catholic bounty hunters and Adventist missionaries are contrasted with today’s ecotourists and short-cut vision seekers. The family history of a displaced Scottish highlander fades into the brutal reality of a major land grab. The historic thirst for gold and the establishment of sprawling coffee plantations leave terrible wounds on virgin territory.

What was once portrayed as an intrepid adventure is transformed into a shocking tale of the violated rights of indigenous people, secret dealings between London finance and Peruvian government, and the collusion of the church in colonial expansion. A beautiful valley is now the property of a British corporation. In Sinclair’s haunting prose, no place escapes its past, and nor can we.

‘Swapping London for Lima, Hackney for Huancayo, in an unexpected departure from more familiar territory, The Gold Machine tracks a feverish descent into the darkness of Peru’s colonial past, as Sinclair follows in the footsteps of his nineteenth-century forbear. Written with his customary linguistic flair, this is a vivid and revealing addition to a unique body of work.’

– Merlin Coverley, author of Psychogeography

‘Sentence for sentence, there is no more interesting writer at work in English.’

– John Lanchester

‘Sinclair is the laureate of the peripatetic and The Gold Machine is his Heart of Darkness. It is the brilliantly written narrative of a long, dark journey into his own familial past. The magic begins on page 1 and continues to its end.’

– Duncan Wu, Raymond A. Wagner Professor of Literature, Georgetown University

‘Sinclair walks every inch of his wonderful psychogeographies, pacing out huge word-courses like an architect laying out a city on an empty plain.’

– J.G. Ballard

More books from this author: Iain Sinclair