Review: Magic by Jan Golembiewski, Transit Lounge

Magic is the most incredible true story you are likely to read in a very long time.
Review: Magic by Jan Golembiewski, Transit Lounge

Jan Golembiewski's Magic.

Magic is the most incredible true story you are likely to read in a very long time.

As a boy, Jan Golembiewski lived for a couple of years in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. He recounts that it was hard to live as part of a traditional tribe and not believe in magic – he was in an environment where personal stories of magic abound, the magic of supernatural forces that appear to influence events. Back in Canberra, aged 19, he takes a year off from university. He rebels against conventional wisdom but decides not to reject any ‘weird ideas in case they would prove to be a secret key that could make sense of the world.'

He starts a journey overseas with a very large backpack crammed to overflowing with all the things he might need for a long trip through many countries. At his first stopover in Hawaii, he begins to feel the burden of carrying too much baggage. (He also decides to become a vegetarian for no particular reason.) On the next leg of his journey, he meets with a well travelled friend in San Francisco and takes his advice to buy a smaller pack, discarding much of his stuff. Eventually he discards just about everything.

And so his journey proceeds, sometimes with friends or acquaintances, sometimes alone. He spends a short time in the USA, some time in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala. Wherever he finds himself, he makes friends and finds somewhere to sleep. He experiments with drugs. He shrugs off what to him are merely minor inconveniences, such as the theft of his wallet. He continues searching for magic and finds it in Dangriga, a town in southern Belize, where he comes under the spell of Focus, a Rastafarian with magical powers.

For Focus and his followers, though, it is Africa that is the centre of prophecy, history, revelation, and power. It is the place the Rasterfari return to on the day of judgement. Now, more than ever, Jan is determined to go to Africa and he eventually gets there, but not before visiting many other places and having fascinating, exciting and often dangerous adventures in the process. The luck, the favourable coincidences and the chance friendships of his journey confirm Jan’s belief in magic. ‘We may think we are in control, but we all muddle through our lives by magic,' he opines.

Eventually Jan sets out to cross the Sahara with a group of friends. He eschews detailed planning as by now he is convinced that the only way to prepare for the unknown is ‘through an internal, spiritual journey of discovery’. He believes that if it were God’s will that he perish in the Sahara, no deliberations or careful planning would save him. At one point, alone and almost dying of thirst in the desert, he stumbles across a bottle of water. He only drinks half of it in case it was intended to save someone else and leaves it where he found it. He staggers on to find a village, only to be imprisoned as an illegal immigrant.

Given the events that follow it is a miracle (or as he would have it – magic) that Jan survived and is now, many years later, living in Sydney as a successful architect, a happily married man with two children and what he calls a revolving circle of friends.

4 stars ★★★★

Format: ISBN: 978-1-925760-07-1 Trade PB 384pp
Rights: World Rights
Release / Publication Date: 01 /10 /2018
Transit Lounge


Erich Mayer

Tuesday 9 October, 2018

About the author

Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog