Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux


Paul Theroux was born and raised in Massachusetts. One of seven children, he developed an early interest in books and writing. The written word, he quickly learned, offered a special kind of privacy, rare in so large a family, and was the most forceful and final way to express his ideas. Since that early discovery, Theroux has continued to write and to refine his considerable talent.

Theroux graduated from the University of Massachusetts and did graduate work at Syracuse University. In 1963 he joined the Peace Corps, serving as a teacher in Africa. He was assigned to the small country of Malawi, which achieved independence during his residency. Staying there for five years, he left in 1968 to assume a teaching position at the University of Singapore.

Theroux’s first book, the novel Waldo, was published in 1966. Over the next five years he published three more novels: Fong and the Indians, Girls at Play and Jungle Lovers. All three are set in Africa, catching vivid, convincing detail of the hapless collision of Western appetites and ideals with the fragile, uncertain, impoverished new world of Africa. “Paul Theroux,” the South African novelist Nadine Gordimer has written, “is without peer as the merciless obituarist of colonialism. He knows why his way matchlessly about the milieu where no one was ever at home. . . . Theroux’s novels are neither apologia nor accusation; wit is his rare medium, and that lays bare both. He is a large, lively, outrageous talent.”

Theroux resigned his position at the University of Singapore in 1971 to devote himself entirely to writing. In the years since, his output has been both prodigious and diverse. He has published the novels Saint Jack, The Black House, The Family Arsenal, Picture Palace, The Mosquito Coast, O-Zone, My Secret History, Chicago Loop and Millroy the Magician. He has also published four collections of short stories: Sinning With Annie, The Consul’s File, World’s End and The London Embassy; and a book of two novellas entitled Half Moon Street. He has written two books for young readers, A Christmas Card and London Show, and published a critical study of the works of West Indian novelist V.S. Naipaul.

Paul Theroux has traveled more widely than almost any other major writer of his generation. His explorations of the remote, rough corners of the world, and of the complex, troubled nations of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America have been reflected both in the brilliantly observed, fresh, compelling setting of his fiction and in his celebrated bestselling books of journeys. Among his widely read travel books are The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, The Kingdom by the Sea, the bestselling Riding the Iron Rooster and The Happy Isles of Oceania. On October 17, 1995, G.P. Putnam’s Sons published The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean.

Paul Theroux divides his time between Hawaii and Cape Cod.

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