Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Travel Essays & Travelogues

Kingdom Of Ten Thousand Things

An Impossible Journey From Kabul to Chiapas

by (author) Gary Geddes

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2012
Essays & Travelogues
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2012
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2006
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2005
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


For thirty years, Gary Geddes has lived with his shadow self, an obscure 5th-century Buddhist monk named Huishen, whose legend shanghaied his vivid imagination. Huishen, originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, reportedly sailed from China to Vancouver Island, continuing southward to Mexico. In a journey to recreate the travels of Huishen, Geddes finds himself not only struggling to cross the ancient barriers of the Himalayas, the Taklamakan Desert, the Pacific Ocean and the jungles of Central America, but also gingerly picking his way through Taliban landmines and Chinese and Zapatista politics.

From Afghan refugees to Tibetan monks and the ghost of Quetzalcoatl in Mexico, Geddes encounters a host of quirky characters and fast friends—none so compelling and insistent as the voice of Huishen, who speaks to him mysteriously across the centuries. But not even Huishen could imagine the events of 9/11, which transform Geddes’ journey beyond a quest for an elusive monk, into an exploration of the ways in which we learn to interpret history.

Sacred, profane and richly comic, Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things (a Chinese term for life itself) is a remarkable personal odyssey, a cornucopia of adventure, philosophy and hearsay, a book that will disarm and delight while provoking debate: just who got here first, anyway?

About the author

Gary Geddes was born in Vancouver and raised mostly on the west coast, where he gill netted, loaded boxcars at BC Sugar Refinery, stocked shelves at Woodwards, worked as a fishing guide at Whytecliffe, taught on Texada Island, and drove water-taxi. After doing graduate studies at Reading University in England and at the University of Toronto, he embarked on a varied career as a writer, teacher, editor, and publisher. Gary taught for twenty years at Concordia University in Montreal before returning to the west coast, where he was appointed Distinguished Professor of Canadian Culture at Western Washington University (1998-2001) and served as writer-in-residence at Green College (UBC), and the Vancouver Public Library. He has written and edited more than thirty-five books of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, criticism, translation and anthologies, including 20th Century Poetry & Poetics and 15 Canadian Poets Times 3. His literary awards include the E.J. Pratt Medal and Prize (1970), the National Poetry Prize (1981), the Americas Best Book Award in the 1985 Commonwealth Poetry Competition, National Magazine Gold Award (1987), the Writers Choice Award (1988), Archibald Lampman Prize (1990 and 1996), the Poetry Book Society Recommendation (1996) and the Gabriela Mistral Prize (1996), which he shared with Nobel laureates Octavio Paz and Vaclav Havel and with Rafael Alberti, Ernesto Cardenal, and Mario Benedetti. Gary Geddes lives on Vancouver Island, where he divides his time between Victoria and French Beach.

Gary Geddes' profile page

Other titles by Gary Geddes