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The Art of Patience

Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet

Translated by Frank Wynne
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The Art of Patience sees the renowned French adventurer and writer Sylvain Tesson undertake an expedition to the mountains of Tibet in search of the famously elusive snow leopard.

After the publication of The Consolations of the Forest (2014), Sylvain Tesson had a devastating climbing accident that broke far too many bones in his body. A year later, determined to walk himself back to health, he set off on the backroads of France from the Piedmont to Brittany. Then in 2018, in the footsteps of the admired American writer Peter Matthiessen, he undertook a far more ambitious, far more testing journey: to learn the art of patience, waiting for the snow leopard to appear – no small challenge for a man who all his life has sought to beat time by outrunning it.

In the company of leading wildlife photographer Vincent Munier and two companions, Tesson headed up to the high plateaux of remotest Tibet. There, at 5,000 metres and in temperatures of -25C, the team set up their hides on exposed mountainsides, and occasionally in the luxury of an icy cave, to await a visitation from the almost mythical beast.

This tightly focused and tautly written narrative is simultaneously a dazzling account of an exacting journey, an apprenticeship in the art of patience, a meditation on what happens when time slows right down, an acceptance of the ruthlessness of the natural world and, finally, a plea for ecological sanity. It is also a small masterpiece.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (May 6, 2021)
  • Length: 176 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780861540006

‘[One of] the best books of the year.’

– Financial Times on Consolations of the Forest

‘I thought I’d rip through this book. But it’s not something you want to read fast. Tesson, who I came to like more and more, is trying to rearrange his relationship with time. Being alone, miles from anywhere, encourages him to sit still and watch things.’

– Spectator on Consolations of the Forest

‘He comes across as the brainiest, daftest, sternest, funniest, most companionable hermit you'll ever meet.’

– The Guardian on Consolations of the Forest