Archive - May 22, 2017

1
Paul Theroux Declared Persona Non Grata (Malawi)
2
Was Paul Theroux a Super Vol or Super Radical? (Malawi)

Paul Theroux Declared Persona Non Grata (Malawi)

“Two months before I was supposed to leave the Peace Corps,” Theroux recalled in a 1971 essay published in Esquire and reprinted in Sunrise with Seamonsters, “I was charged with conspiring against the government. All I did was to help several Africans: help one’s mother, help another with his car, maybe write a few mild anti-government [U.S.] articles. But I was linked to a plot to assassinate Hastings Banda. Well, people I knew were actually trying to shoot Banda. So it was more guilt by association.” Theroux came home to be interrogated by the State Department and the Peace Corps.  Writing about this in Esquire, under the title, “The Killing of Hastings Banda,” Theroux explained how he had innocently gotten mixed up with the German equivalent of the CIA. He was writing, “background” pieces for what he understood was a German magazine, but what was actually their intelligence service. This, of . . .

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Was Paul Theroux a Super Vol or Super Radical? (Malawi)

Paul Theroux lived, not only on the edge of the Rift Valley but also on the edge of the Peace Corps. He was the Volunteer who lived in the African village without servants. He drank in the shanty bars instead of with the Brits at their gymkhanas. He went out with African women and did not date the pale daughters of British settlers when they came home on holidays from their all-white Rhodesian boarding schools. He hated the PCVs who ran with the ex-pats, the “wog bashers,” as they called themselves. PCV Paul Nelson (Malawi 1963-65) remembers him from Training. “Paul was always his own person,” Nelson wrote me. “In those days of background checks and psychological interviews, Theroux did not fit the predetermined patterns. During one interview, when asked his opinion of marriage, he described it as a three-headed horse, leaving the interviewer puzzling as to what box that . . .

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