Paul Theroux was born April 10, 1941 in Medford Massachusetts, and has had quite the prolific career as an author. Known as a writer who travels, and not a travel writer, Paul Theroux has penned numerous books about travel—many of which feature his favorite form of transport: trains.
If you've never read Paul Theroux's work before, then I'm here to tell you you're missing out! Not sure where to start? Read on for 5 great books by Paul Theroux—most of which will take you on journeys to far away places.
1. Saint Jack
Although fiction isn't necessarily his strong suit, Paul Theroux's slim novel, Saint Jack, is a good place to start for anyone new to the author. The book follows an American expat living his years out in Singapore.
Saint Jack captures beautifully the loneliness and isolation of expat life after too many years abroad. What was once exciting and carefree about expat life as a young man, begins to grow burdensome with the approach of old age and death.
2. The Great Railway Bazaar
The Great Railway Bazaar is often cited as one of the essential works of travel literature, and once you dive in you'll see why. In the mid-70s Paul Theroux set out on a train journey that would stretch from London, across Europe and into Asia.
It's a window into a time before mass tourism and the growth of the West's fascination with all things from the East. A must-read for anyone who loves train travel.
3. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
If you enjoyed The Great Railway Bazaar, I recommend jumping right into Ghost Train to the Eastern Star next. 30 years after writing the former, Paul Theroux decides to embark on the same journey to see how the world and his perceptions have changed.
In some ways, the changes are monumental (the USSR has since dissolved), in others, they are more poignantly personal (Paul Theroux's much happier second marriage adds more character to his travel experiences this time around). Some claim Theroux's age and experience resulted in a better second book!
4. The Lower River
Paul Theroux has always admitted to having a lasting love affair with Africa, and he often can't seem to help weaving it into his books. The Lower River is a work of fiction, but mirrors in some ways Theroux's real-life experiences.
A man named Ellis Hock yearns to return to Malawi where he spent four years working for the Peace Corps as a young man (similarly, Paul Theroux also joined the Peace Corpse and worked as a teacher in Malawi in the 60s). Convinced it's the only way he can be happy again, Hock returns to Malawi, only to find things have drastically changed since his youth—and not always for the better.
5. Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown
Dark Star Safari is one of Paul Theroux's most endearing travel books. It's an observant documentation of his journey across Africa by almost every form of transportation you can imagine (and some that you can't).
Theroux encounters a variety of characters on his exciting journey and offers some unique insight into the history of the continent and its people. This is a story for those who truly want to get under the nails of Africa and understand the many cultures that make it such a fascinating travel destination.
Have you read Paul Theroux's work before? Tell us in the comments which one is your favorite and why!