A devout young boy in rural Ohio, Andrew Evans had his life mapped for him: baptism, mission, Brigham Young University, temple marriage, and children of his own. But as an awkward gay kid, bullied and bored, he escaped into the glossy pages of National Geographic and the wide promise of the world atlas. The Black Penguin is Evans's memoir, travel tale, and love story of his eventual journey to the farthest reaches of the map, a wild yet touching adventure across some of the most astonishing landscapes on Earth.
Ejected from church and shunned by his family as a young man, Evans embarks on an ambitious overland journey halfway across the world. Riding public transportation, he crosses swamps, deserts, mountains, and jungles, slowly approaching his lifelong dream and ultimate goal: Antarctica. With each new mile comes laughter, pain, unexpected friendship, true weirdness, unsettling realities, and some hair-raising moments that eventually lead to a singular discovery on a remote beach at the bottom of the world.
Evans's 12,000-mile voyage becomes a soulful quest to balance faith, family, and self, reminding us that, in the end, our lives are defined by the roads we take, the places we touch, and those we hold nearest.
Andrew Evans has completed more than thirty assignments for National Geographic, reporting from all seven continents. He is the author of the Bradt travel guides Iceland and Ukraine and lives in Washington, DC.
Andrew Evans's discovery of an all-black king penguin
“The exterior and interior landscapes are meticulously described, moving and often totally unexpected. Compulsive reading.” —Tim Cahill, author of A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg
“A traveler of boundless curiosity and compassion, Evans spins a globe-trotting tale of daring and discovery. His expedition proves that our inner and outward journeys can take us everywhere we need to go, from happiness at home to elation at the ends of the Earth.” —George W. Stone, editor in chief, National Geographic Traveler
“I swear on a stack of National Geographic magazines that few writers possess a passion for travel and life matched by their storytelling talents. I love Andrew Evans’s winning combination of both.” —Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die
“As travel literature, the fascination of The Black Penguin lies in the difficulties Evans has undertaken by choosing to travel only by bus all the way 12,000 miles through the Southern USA, Central America and South America. . . . The long bus ride also provides the writer ample opportunity to ponder his life and gracefully weave thoughts about Andrew Evans, former Mormon and gay man into the story of Andrew Evans, travel writer on an adventure.” —Traveler’s Library
“Evans interweaves three urgent personal quests: his expedition, his effort to convince his family to accept his homosexuality and his struggle for the right to marry the man he loved. . . . The Black Penguin relays the ups and downs of that journey, but the terra incognita [he] claims is his own pride.” —New York Times Book Review
“Combines an improbable trek to Antarctica with . . . struggles surrounding religion, family, and sexuality. . . . These two distinct halves hold together surprisingly well, thanks to Evans's excellent writing and eye for detail.” —Publishers Weekly
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