The Last Train to Zona Verde: Book summary and reviews of The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux

The Last Train to Zona Verde

My Ultimate African Safari

By Paul Theroux

The Last Train to Zona Verde
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

Following the success of the acclaimed Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and The Great Railway Bazaar, The Last Train to Zona Verde is an ode to the last African journey of the world's most celebrated travel writer.

"Happy again, back in the kingdom of light," writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey through the continent he knows and loves best. Theroux first came to Africa as a twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, and the pull of the vast land 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.

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. After 2,500 arduous miles, he comes to the end of his journey in more ways than one, a decision he chronicles with typically unsparing honesty in a chapter called "What Am I Doing Here?"

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. His ability to map new terrain, both interior and exterior, and to report from places that seldom make the news, remains undiminished." - Booklist

"Starred Review. 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." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. "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." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Paul Theroux Author Biography

Photo: Greg Martin

Paul Edward Theroux was born on April 10, 1941 in Medford, Massachusetts. The son of a French-Canadian father and an Italian mother, Theroux was one of seven children. Never much of an athlete, Theroux spent most of the 1950's reading. He never admitted, even to himself, his desire to be a writer and studied premed in college. Writing, he believed to be "incompatible with being a man--money is masculinity".

Theroux, who grew up a Boy Scout and a Catholic, graduated high school in 1959 and left Medford "the first chance I had". He attended the University of Maine where he wrote many anti-Vietnam war editorials and refused to join the required Reserved Officers Training Corps. He transferred to the University of Massachusetts and took a creative ...

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Name Pronunciation
Paul Theroux: Thor-ew (which, incidentally, is different to Henry Thoreau which is pronounced like 'thorough')

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