Ilija Trojanow offers a rare insight into the hajj. The hajj is the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Only Muslims are allowed into Mecca, so an experience that is protean to the lives of millions of the world’s population remains scarcely documented in “western” literature. Trojanow offers a pared down account. There are no literary frills. It’s almost as though the writer is aware of an obligation to recount as plainly as possible an experience which he knows much of his readerhood will never be able to share. The emphasis is on a disciplined, sober detailing of the process. There are moments of near-hysteria: an account of being nearly crushed underfoot by the mass of pilgrims suddenly lends the text a more threatening edge. However, for understandable reasons, the book resists any instinct towards hyperbole. Instead it recounts the stages of the hajj, offering vivid accounts of some of his fellow pilgrims who have arrived from all corners of the world. Trojanow helps to demystify Islam. His voice is a valuable, measured bridge between cultures which sometimes seem like they are worlds apart.