Theroux takes readers on a trip back to Africa

'The Last Train to Zona Verde' by Paul Theroux
'The Last Train to Zona Verde' by Paul Theroux
Book cover courtesy of publisher

Kerri's book pick this week is Paul Theroux's "The Last Train to Zona Verde."

Britain's The Guardian calls it "a riveting, chilling read, one that outlines a reality that sometimes seems more like the apocalyptic fiction of writers such as Cormac McCarthy" — but Theroux is a travel writer, a memoirist, and this book recounts the 72-year-old's trip from Cape Town to Angola and back again.

"Much of this trip is a dispiriting slog through squalid bus stations and urban slums, enlivened by Theroux's vivid evocations of misery as well as by his moral outrage," said the New York Times.

The book follows up on Theroux's "Dark Star Safari," the 2002 account of his travels southward through the heart of the continent, from Egypt to South Africa, a trip he says he took to see for himself what decades of Western aid had done to the place and its people.

The New York Times declares his trip a misadventure, "a valedictory journey through the continent that has enthralled and repelled him since he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi in the 1960s," and despite his multiple returns to the continent, the trip proved more challenging the farther he traveled.

The Toronto Star says, "In the end, 'Last Train' is a memoir — and a deeply felt, engaging, brilliant wrought one at that — of a man who ran away to a conflicted continent only to have it become part of his own identity. Theroux is well aware that the knowledge he brings to his subject pales in comparison to the fact that his presence is part of the problem. He has no choice but to stay at luxury hotels; there are few choices between wealth and poverty."


Video of Theroux discussing "The Last Train to Zona Verde"

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