About Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia, by Justin Chapman:

In the Spring of 2012, reporter and travel junkie Justin Chapman threw his cares to the wind and, by himself, set off on an epic journey across eight countries in Africa—from Cape Town, South Africa to Mityana, Uganda—by bus, train, and boat. Along the way, he narrowly escaped being locked away in a mental institution, visited an impoverished township that was changing its future with the help of an art-based nonprofit, got into a life-threatening car crash, explored the mystical island of Zanzibar, lived with a group of Catholic priests, witnessed a witchcraft healing ceremony, discovered a pygmy opium den, and chased down riveting stories with a local journalist. He crossed cultural boundaries, found love and companionship in unusual places, and stared death—with all its visceral stench and gore—directly in the eyeballs. Saturnalia is an engrossing cultural anthropological treatise like none other. By embarking on a journey of self-discovery and survival, Chapman explores what Africa really has to offer, and in the process, discovers surprising and unexpected relationships between people and places.

Originally published by Rare Bird Books in January 2015. Purchase the book here.


Please consider donating to our good friend Father Kizito Ssendi, a priest doing amazing work that is empowering rural villages in abject poverty in central Uganda: frkizito.com

Also check out Art Aids Art, the non-profit organization that is empowering woman in a poor township in Cape Town, South Africa: artaidsart.org
Here's what people are saying about Saturnalia:

“The best and most arresting travel books are the ones that also take us on the author’s inner journey. Justin Chapman’s memoir is a perfect metaphor for contemporary American youth, painfully trying to work through its own baggage, and openly and sincerely seeking to engage with the world beyond the USA’s established physical and cultural borders. Don’t miss this one.”
Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

Saturnalia does a nice job capturing the angst of a young writer trying to experience a different life while struggling to avoid the pull of his old one. Whether emotionally affected by a Rwandan genocide memorial or physically impacted by a sudden car crash in Zimbabwe, Chapman comes away from his African journey with some interesting stories, and he shares them in an open and often engaging manner.”
Jeff FleischerForeword Reviews

“Chapman, my colleague at the Pasadena Weekly, writes about his journey from Cape Town, South Africa, to Uganda in his newly released Saturnalia. It is an emotional, geographical, and spiritual journey that is hair-raising and hysterical, sometimes within the same paragraph. As someone who loves travel and personal transformation, Saturnalia hits both those notes big time. I have often said that if I had a magic wand, I'd send every person I could on a trip to a world that has virtually nothing compared to what we have here in the states. Mr. Chapman uses his trips to soul search and to continent search too. I love his clear and compelling prose and most of all, I love his wit and wisdom and big streak of smart-assery. If that's not a word, it should be. Chapman is a smart ass with a smart brain and smart heart.”
Ellen Snortland, author of Beauty Bites Beast and The Safety Godmothers

“Chapman’s vivid prose turns every paragraph into a photograph of a strange, dangerous but alluring land. As his characters indulge themselves with sometimes reckless abandon, the author communicates a sense of adventure for adventure’s sake and draws the reader into riding along without hesitation.”
Joe Piasecki, editor of The Argonaut and former LA Times reporter

Saturnalia is a fast-paced, dark, funny, insightful, and harrowing trip through Africa. The author has a journalist's eye for detail--complete with all the sights, sounds and smells of the land. It's both the Africa you wanted to know and the Africa you were afraid to know. Yet, as with all great travel narratives, the journey isn't only about what the author encounters in the physical world. Chapman must face his own inner demons as well. It's not always pretty, but it's honest, brutally honest. A great read and one that will stay with you for quite a while.”
Timothy Burgess, author of The Never-Ending Swell: A Liam Sol Mystery and California Son: A Liam Sol Mystery

Saturnalia...is both a fascinating travelogue of [Chapman's] three-month tour through Africa, and is especially a journey of self-healing and self-discovery. Saturnalia is a fascinating internal journey for a young American finding himself and his purpose by traveling through the heart of Africa, using buses and trains and taxis and his feet, just the Africans around him do. My wife and I read it to each other and had an enjoyable three or four evenings doing it.”
Dick Price & Sharon Kyle, publishers/editors of LA Progressive

“The book is engaging for its unusual sights—soccer games, organized and impromptu; witchcraft rituals; death, both human and animal; and even pygmies—as well as Chapman’s self-deprecating, blustery, often funny voice. Guys on the run from the regular may find some inspiration here.”
Eloise KinneyBooklist