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Paul Theroux (Paul Edward Theroux) Biography

(1941– ), (Paul Edward Theroux), Fong and the Indians, Girls at Play, Jungle Lovers, Saint Jack

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American novelist and travel writer, born in Medford, Massachusetts, educated at the University of Massachusetts. He lectured in English in Malawi, Uganda, and Singapore. Africa provides the background for three of his early novels, Fong and the Indians (1968), Girls at Play (1969), and Jungle Lovers (1971), which display a common concern with the morally deforming tensions between Western and African cultures. Saint Jack (1973), centring on prostitution in Singapore, was his first major success as a novelist; subsequent novels include The Family Arsenal (1976), a story of terrorism in London; The Mosquito Coast (1981; stage production by David Glass, 1995), on an American family's attempt to inhabit a South American jungle; Chicago Loop (1990), a violent anatomy of social disorder and sexual obsession; and Millroy the Magician (1993), about a children's entertainer turned TV evangelist preaching healthy eating as the route to salvation. As a travel writer specializing in extended rail journeys, Theroux has published The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), on his crossings of Europe and Asia; The Old Patagonian Express (1979), an account of North and South America; The Imperial Way (1985), on a journey from Pakistan to Bangladesh; and Riding the Iron Rooster (1988), which describes his experiences of China. Among his other travel books are The Kingdom by the Sea (1983), a record of his itinerary around the British coast, The Happy Isles of Oceana (1992) on travels in the Pacific, and The Pillars of Hercules (1995) about a Mediterranean tour. Sunrise with Seamonsters (1985) is a collection of essays on his travels from 1964 to 1984.

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