Occasionally one wishes for relief from its staccato rhythms, but the singular virtue of Crowden’s prose is to create a sense of enormous immediacy. The Frozen River is also an immensely modest account. In fact I have seldom read a travel book where the narrator is so absent. Instead, he acts as a transparent lens that gathers all that fierce Zanskari winter light and illuminates the primary colours of both the place and its people. In so doing he creates a tour de force of luminous writing.