Paul Theroux’s new book is a 2,500-mile foray into Africa’s heart (he’s been there before!) It is, says Theroux, his last trip on the continent.
“Happy again, back in the kingdom of light,” writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey. Theroux first came to Africa when he was 22 and a PCV. We might say that the land has never left him. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa and to take stock both of the place and of himself, as the book jacket tells us.
The book jacket copy goes onto say: His odyssey takes him northward from Cape Town, through South Africa and Namibia, then on into Angola, wishing to head farther still until he reaches the end of the line. Journeying alone through the greenest continent, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements.
Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sunbaked heartland of the savanna, Theroux crosses “the Red Line” into a different Africa: “the improvised, slapped-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch,” of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs, and anarchy.
At the end of the 2,500 arduous miles, he chronicles with typically unsparing honesty in a chapter called “What Am I Doing Here?”
Publishers Weekly in a starred review writes: “Theroux’s prose is as vividly descriptive and atmospheric as ever and, though a bit curmudgeonly, he’s still wide open to raw, painful interactions between his psyche and his surroundings.”
Booklist sums up: Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, The Last Train to Zona Verde is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers. His ability to map new terrain, both interior and exterior, and to report from places that seldom make the news, remains undiminished.”
And Kirkus follows with, “In this intensely personal book, Theroux honestly confronts racism, stigma, privilege and expectations…Reading this enlightening book won’t only open a window into Theroux’s mind, it will also impart a deeper understanding of Africa and travel in general.”