An Amazon Best Book of the Month for July 2019
This evocative work of nature writing traverses the world’s largest temperate rainforest to uncover the legend of the Sasquatch.
Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is home to trees as tall as skyscrapers and moss as thick as carpet. According to the people who live there, another giant may dwell in these woods. For centuries, locals have reported encounters with the Sasquatch—a species of hairy man-ape that could inhabit this pristine wilderness.
Driven by his childhood obsession with the Sasquatch, yet trying to remain objective, journalist John Zada seeks out the people and stories surrounding this enigmatic creature. He speaks with local Indigenous peoples and a Sasquatch-studying scientist. He hikes with a former bear hunter.
Soon, he finds himself on quest for something infinitely more complex, cutting across questions of human perception, scientific inquiry, Indigenous traditions, the environment, and the power of the human imagination to believe in—or to outright dismiss—one of nature’s last great mysteries.
John Zada is a writer, photographer, and journalist drawn to stories about adventure and far-flung parts of the world. He has worked in over two dozen countries and spent years as a journalist in the Middle East. His work has appeared in the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Explore, CBC, Al Jazeera, BBC, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is his first book. He lives in Toronto, Canada.
“Books on supernatural phenomena typically steer one of two courses: tabloid gullibility or mean-spirited debunkery. Zada deftly tightropes between the two . . . In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is not really about sasquatch. It is about how we see what we want to see and don’t see what we’re not prepared to see . . . A quirky and oddly captivating tale.”
—Eric Weiner, Washington Post
“An adventure story in the tradition of Paul Theroux and, in parts, Jon Krakauer . . . Zada is a latter-day Henry David Thoreau or John Muir . . . Searching for an elusive ape, Zada has a knack for meeting unforgettable humans.”
—Peter Kuitenbrouwer, Globe and Mail
“Finally a truly talented writer approaches a subject matter that has been otherwise relegated to a cultural punchline thanks to, primarily, reality television. John Zada’s quest for this holy grail and his compulsion for emotional narrative is nothing less than a modern-day mythical journey; and he shares it with us in a perfect blend of poetic prose and creative story-telling.”
—Survivorman Les Stroud
“If people can believe in God, why not Sasquatch? Zada takes us through the temperate rainforest of British Columbia looking for both the hairy bipedal and the mythology and landscape surrounding it. Terrific nature writing with a furry twist.”
—Kerri Arsenault, Orion
“In this fascinating nature narrative, freelance writer Zada searches for evidence of Bigfoot in the forests of the Pacific Northwest . . . Zada relates his adventures, including his encounters with bears, along with his observations into the collective unconscious of humans and how brains construct reality . . . Zada’s fun, well-written travelogue will interest environmentalists and armchair adventurers alike.”
“Full of dramatic, tense chase scenes?the book is, quite literally, an adventure story.”
—Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
“As eloquent and big-hearted as, for instance, Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard . . . Despite the towering creature at its heart, the genius of In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is most often its human pathos . . . Odd, winning gravitas . . . The shelf of serious, beautifully done Bigfoot books isn’t exactly a crowded one, but it now has an indisputable classic.”
—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly
“Less the hooting and wood-knocking sensationalism of Finding Bigfoot (though that show certainly has its charms) than Robert Michael Pyles’s Where Bigfoot Walks, another book that leans toward respectability with its emphasis on natural history. Zada’s entry is a beautifully rendered account of a mist-shrouded world suspended between myth and modernity: its people, culture, ecology, and for receptive readers, its most mysterious denizen.”
—Jon Foro, Amazon Book Review
“In seeking to discover Bigfoot, Zada uncovers a different story, one that’s about all of us . . . [In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond] belongs among the travel memoirs. It’s literature.”
“For lovers of nature writing who also definitely want to know about the Sasquatch (so, everyone).”
—Emily Temple, Literary Hub
”Bigfoot lives?maybe, as this X-Files-worthy tale reveals . . . Traveling deep into the old-growth forests of British Columbia, [Zada] had a look for himself, and it's not too much of a spoiler to say that he adds to the seen/unproven inventory . . . Believe or don't, the author writes nimbly and well, and his story is modest and evenhanded even as he lets us know just where he stands. An entertaining, provocative exercise in cryptozoology."
“John Zada is one of those rare writers who conjures spellbinding prose through an acute sense of nature’s significance and the mythologies we all inhabit. A profound debut.”
—Robert Twigger, author of White Mountain: A Cultural Adventure through the Himalayas