Yossi Ghinsberg is an Israeli adventurer, author, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and motivational speaker based in Australia.
Ghinsberg is most known for his survival story of when he was stranded in an uncharted part of the Bolivian Amazon jungle for three weeks in 1981.
Yossi's book 'Jungle,' is published in over 20 languages and distributed worldwide with millions of copies sold. Published by Random House, Pan Macmillan, National Geographic, Penguin, Summersdale and Skyhorse amongst others and critically reviewed and acclaimed by the LA Times, The Washington Post, CNN and may others.
The book's adaptation was one of the core episodes for a Discovery Channel acclaimed series "I shouldn’t Be Alive". And in April 2017 a motion picture based on 'Jungle' premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Yossi.
Four travelers meet in Bolivia and set off into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, but what begins as a dream adventure quickly deteriorates into a dangerous nightmare, and after weeks of wandering in the dense undergrowth, the four backpackers split up into two groups. But when a terrible rafting accident separates him from his partner, Yossi is forced to survive for weeks alone against one of the wildest backdrops on the planet. Stranded without a knife, map, or survival training, he must improvise shelter and forage for wild fruit to survive. As his feet begin to rot during raging storms, as he loses all sense of direction, and as he begins to lose all hope, he wonders whether he will make it out of the jungle alive.
The basis of an upcoming motion picture starring Daniel Radcliffe, Jungle is the story of friendship and the teachings of nature, and a terrifying true account that you won’t be able to put down.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I was an avid reader all my life, autodidact, I read all the classics and all the moderns. However it was my tendency to hallucinate that was the drive and inspiration. I would cast myself for hours imagining myself as a great explorer, it was clear to me that life must be a great adventure and that one day I will leave my books behind and go search for my own story.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Kevin, is the real hero of this story there can be placed left for doubt. His archetype according to me is the knight/warrior - his nobility innate he has no choice but doing the right thing. And he does. Safe after his own harrowing survival saga he returns to the Amazon in search for me. Against all odds, it is only his passion that drives the search. And once we discover our other to travel mates didn’t make it to civilization, Kevin organizes an expedition and leads it again back into the deep Amazon. He is a real hero.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The memoir came first. The story wanted to be told and it was a cathartic experience writing it. Writing it was such a gift to me as I have externalized the story and gave it to the world. I am not a great writer, it is a great story I lived through and I was young enough not to have perspective no ambition and aloud the story to tell itself, raw and amazingly detailed. The title was an issue, couldn’t come up with any title I liked, I settled from the simple ‘Back from Tuichi’. The book became a huge bestseller in Israel and a cult phenomena till today. Once it was translated to some 20 languages, the title has been changed several times; ‘Heart of the Amazon’ by Random House, “Lost in the Jungle’ by Summersdale and finally it settled on ‘Jungle’ the current SkyHorse title and the movie title as well.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
the downfall of Marcus - Because of that courage to be totally candid in revealing my own darkness not trying to occult nothing. You couldn’t but fall in love with Marcus he was so beautiful, so compassionate, such authentic kindness that was unconditionally given with unreasonable generosity. I was so proud he chose me, asked me to travel with him. But than in the forest my own darkness was the scariest thing I’ve experienced. Marcus was the weakest both physically and mentally and both Kevin and I withdrew ourselves from him. when he needed me most I have abandoned him, I wasn’t there for him , I have betrayed him. I had my petite victory, resenting him for being so beautiful, because in his perfection I saw all my flaws, I celebrated his isolation. Being weak and afraid myself I leveraged on his weakness and fear to pretend I was one of the tough guys. The courage to tell it as it was, the courage to face his family and tell them the entire truth. I’m proud of that.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Tell it as it is, people are not looking for the most eloquent writing, they are reading between the lines sensing authenticity, it is not about what you write as a writer but about who you are as a writer. I find some amazing writers like Salman Rushdie to be indulgent at times, they write because they can. And than you have jorge Luis Borges so succinct, so simple and yet nobody write better than him.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The iconic face of Daniel Radcliffe - what a gift to my story and what a gift to my book - his face, put aside the fact he is very handsome, is the most iconic face of our century thu far. If there was a time capsule made for future archeologist to find there is no doubt, Harry Potter will be inside. To have this bright face laced all over the front cover of my book - what a privilege! Thank you Daniel for allowing that and for the wonderful preface you wrote for the movie edition.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I am a storyteller, I tell my own stories. I have to dream my stories before I tell them and then venture out after them into the real world in search of them. I don’t say I have a dream, I say the dream has me - it is like a burden at times. So I have a couple of dreams set in action now. I’ll share with you one. I’d like to take my story now after the film’s release to Off Broadway as an immersive theater experience, where I, the storyteller will tell my story directly to general audiences. However the setting will be augmented and virtual bringing the Amazon into the theater in a real a eery way and the advanced sound technology will literally freak people out as the darkness set and the forest awakens to life. A combination of two great passions of mine, sheer classic storytelling and cutting edge technology.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
My story is of a young dreamer following his passion to be a great explorer, to venture deep into the unknown world, there deep in the uncharted I would find a tribe that was never seen before - they will take me in, make me one of them, I will fall in love with the daughter of the chief and find a treasure of some sort to bring back to civilization and become rich and famous. It all happened. I fdelved deep into the uncharted, almost lost my life, got much more than what I’ve bargained for, my rite of passage, I finally became the hero of my own story. And I found my tribe, The Uchupiamonas of the Madidi jungle. They saved Kevin and with him returned to save me. I went back and became one of them, was initiated as an Uchupiamona myself, married my wife in a shamanic ritual in the village, and I found my treasure as well, the love and inspiration I got from nature have transformed my life. 35 years later I’m writing this now from the Bolivian Amazon surrounded by my Waukis, brother and sisters, the Uchupiamonas of the deep Madidi Jungle.
By: Yossi Ghinsberg
Publishing Date: October 17th, 2017
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Three winners will receive a finished copy of the JUNGLE Movie Tie-In Edition ~ (US Only)
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