The Un-Discovered Islands by Malachy Tallack


Beautiful, is the first word that comes to mind, upon seeing this book. Richly illustrated with flowers, plants, animals and objects by London based designer Katie Scott it is almost a small coffee table book. Something to flick through and discover, which seems perfectly fitted to its subject of un-discovered islands. Islands that only existed in people’s imagination, that were invented or seemingly appeared and disappeared. The stories of un-discovered islands has a long history. “For as long as people have been making stories, they have been inventing islands.”

Malachy Tallack clearly has a penchant for things mystical and intangible. In his previous book Sixty Degrees North, Tallack explored the concept of home. For it he traveled along the 60th parallel of latitude. The Un-discovered Islands is a meditative exploration of myths and facts. Tallack calmly dispenses facts and stories, while adding some personal observations and experience from his Shetland upbringing and his experience with Thule, one of twentyfour islands discussed in this book.

Some of them are well known, such as Atlantis, but most of them are quite obscure. Their obscurity leads to a lack of information about them, meaning the book is rather short and sometimes repetitive. It is nonetheless, a beautiful and fascinating read – a beautiful addition to any bookshelf and coffee table.  

Published in October 2016 by Polygon Books, 152 pages.

Review copy kindly provided by the publisher.

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