Archive - November 2, 2014

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part II

Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part II

Theroux’s first novel Waldo was a picaresque story of a young man who became a success as a writer. It sold around 4000 copies, which was impressive for a first novel, but did not generate enough money for Theroux to quit his day job. His second novel Fong and the Indians, was the first of many “African books” and it was his first book (of many) that dealt with the complexities of a changing Africa. The protagonist was a bungling anti-hero, Sam Fong, a Chinese Catholic grocer. It, too, had limited sales and while it had good reviews, especially in England, it didn’t make any best seller lists. Then came Girls at Play a year later. Paul would write about writing Girls at Play: “My future wife taught at a girls’ school in Kenya. While I was writing (Fong and the Indians), I courted her by driving hundreds of miles . . .

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