From Eric Newby’s bliss in the Hindu Kush to Paul Bowles’s Saharan horrors, the novelist shares her favourite visions of unfathomable territory
Sometime towards the end of 2016, I heard on my kitchen radio that astronomers had just discovered there are two trillion galaxies in the universe – 10 times more than previously thought.
I switched off the radio and sat down, practically dizzy – overwhelmed by the unfathomable vastness of it all. A single galaxy, remember, like ours, consists of gravity, planets, and millions or billions of stars. So: another 1,999,999,999,999 of those.