One review on 20 Mar 2023

First Published: 1997


A Fortune-Teller Told Me

Author: Tiziano Terzani 

Summary: A journalist discovers the joys of not flying for a year

Original Language:
Date first read: Mon 20th Mar 2023

Format:   Paperback

Catalogued: 21st Mar 2023


In 1976 Tiziano was told by a Chinese fortune teller in Hong Kong that he was at grave risk of dying in an air crash in 1993. He didn't take it seriously, but it preyed on his mind and by 1992 he decided he was going to try a year of not flying.

As an international journalist specialising in SE Asia and reporting for a German publication, Die Spiegel, this was not normal. But his employer agreed as they could see it would bring a different perspective to his reporting and let him do it.

The book chronicles his year of not flying, which included seeking out a local fortune-teller everywhere he went. This led to some funny encounters with obvious charletans, and some insightful and inexplicable (by his previous standards) insights.

A lot of slow travel leads to a lot of reflection on the changes in places he has visited before, or in some cases not seen properlly before despite having been there. Many of the chages he sees as not beneficial for the people - and emptiness and hollowness that pervades life as globalisation sucks the lifeblood out of communities. Universal crappification.

By the end he is clearly taking a Buddist road for his future journeyings.


A Life in Transistion

by rogerco on Mon 20th Mar 2023.

A good read, interesting and entertaining. I guess it only gets 5 stars because I didn't really feel any empathy with him as a person to start with, although I warmed to him a bit as the year progressed.

As a travel book/commentary on SE Asia it is excellent. The benefits of slow travel are there to be seen in the pages. His personal development through the year is interesting, although he never fully loses his journalistic cynicism. Sometimes this is merited - some of the fortune tellers he tries are obvious fakes - but he does seem to exist in a bit of a western bubble of privilege. That might be an unfair comment as it is hard to see how he could be what he was without that.