Paul Theroux

Tuesday, February 28th 2023

Paul Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, known for his vivid descriptions of people, cultures, and landscapes. He has published more than 30 books, including travel memoirs, novels, and short story collections. Here are summaries of some of his most popular books:

  1. The Great Railway Bazaar (1975): This is Theroux's first travel book, and it chronicles his journey by train from London through Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia, and back again. The book is full of vivid descriptions of people and places, and it captures a sense of adventure and the joy of travel.

  2. The Old Patagonian Express (1979): In this book, Theroux travels by train from Boston to the southern tip of South America, through Mexico, Central America, and the Andes. Along the way, he encounters a variety of people and cultures, and reflects on the history and politics of the region.

  3. The Mosquito Coast (1981): This is Theroux's most famous novel, and it tells the story of an American inventor who moves his family to a remote jungle in Honduras to escape what he sees as the decadence of American society. The book is a powerful commentary on American exceptionalism and the dangers of trying to escape from reality.

  4. Riding the Iron Rooster (1988): In this book, Theroux travels by train through China in the late 1980s, just as the country is opening up to the world. He observes the rapid changes taking place in Chinese society, and offers insights into the country's history and culture.

  5. The Happy Isles of Oceania (1992): In this travelogue, Theroux travels by kayak through the islands of the South Pacific, from Australia to New Zealand to Fiji and beyond. He meets a variety of people along the way, and reflects on the beauty and fragility of the natural world.

  6. The Pillars of Hercules (1995): In this book, Theroux travels around the Mediterranean, exploring the cultures and histories of the countries that border the sea. He visits Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, and reflects on the region's rich and complex history.

  7. Dark Star Safari (2002): In this book, Theroux travels overland from Cairo to Cape Town, exploring the cultures and politics of Africa. Along the way, he meets a variety of people and reflects on the challenges facing the continent, from poverty and disease to corruption and political instability.

  8. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (2008): This book is a sequel to The Great Railway Bazaar, and it follows Theroux as he retraces his steps through Asia, from London to Japan, and back again. Along the way, he reflects on the changes that have taken place in the region over the past 30 years.

  9. The Tao of Travel (2011): This is a collection of travel writing by Theroux and other authors, including Mark Twain, Graham Greene, and Bruce Chatwin. The book offers insights into the art of travel writing, and reflects on the ways in which travel can change and enrich our lives.

  10. On the Plain of Snakes (2019): In this book, Theroux travels through Mexico, exploring the country's history, culture, and politics. He meets a variety of people along the way, from drug lords to migrant workers, and reflects on the complex relationship between Mexico and the United States.