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Legendary travel writer and novelist Theroux will probably never work for the Kenya or Malawi (or any other country between Cairo and the Cape) tourist boards after the publication of this latest book. In it, he tells of being shot at in Kenya, depressed in Malawi, pestered in Mozambique, robbed in South Africa, and invaded by intestinal parasites in Ethiopia. But this is no mere tale of travel mishaps. Theroux, who lived and worked in Malawi and Uganda in the 1960s, has a genuine affection for the continent that comes through in his tales of African friends, old and new. Among them he counts a former political prisoner in Nairobi, the prime minister of Uganda, a boat captain on Lake Victoria, a former student in Zomba (in Malawi), a besieged farmer in Zimbabwe, and writer and activist Nadine Gordimer in Johannesburg. Safari is Swahili for journey, and Theroux's is truly fantastic. Typical of Theroux's best work, which focuses on a single trip, this book is recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/02.]-Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
"You'll have a terrible time," one diplomat tells Theroux upon discovering the prolific writer's plans to hitch a ride hundreds of miles along a desolate road to Nairobi instead of taking a plane. "You'll have some great stuff for your book." That seems to be the strategy for Theroux's extended "experience of vanishing" into the African continent, where disparate incidents reveal Theroux as well as the people he meets. At times, he goes out of his way to satisfy some perverse curmudgeonly desire to pick theological disputes with Christian missionaries. But his encounters with the natives, aid workers and occasional tourists make for rollicking entertainment, even as they offer a sobering look at the social and political chaos in which much of Africa finds itself. Theroux occasionally strays into theorizing about the underlying causes for the conditions he finds, but his cogent insights are well integrated. He doesn't shy away from the literary aspects of his tale, either, frequently invoking Conrad and Rimbaud, and dropping in at the homes of Naguib Mahfouz and Nadine Gordimer at the beginning and end of his trip. He also returns to many of the places where he lived and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer and teacher in the 1960s, locations that have cropped up in earlier novels. These visits fuel the book's ongoing obsession with his approaching 60th birthday and his insistence that he isn't old yet. As a travel guide, Theroux can both rankle and beguile, but after reading this marvelous report, readers will probably agree with the priest who observes, "Wonderful people. Terrible government. The African story." (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Engagingly written, sharply observed; another winner from Theroux. Kirkus Reviews, Starred His encounters with the natives, aid workers and occasional tourists make for rollicking entertainment, even as they offer a sobering look at the social and political chaos in which much of Africa finds itself. Publishers Weekly No mere tale of travel mishaps....Safari is Swahili for journey, and Theroux's is truly fantastic. Library Journal Starred Few recent books provide such a litany of Africa's ills, even as they make one fall in love with the continent. The Washington Post Theroux, one suspects, could be a headache to travel with; resourceful, courageous and indefatigable, as well as crusty, opinionated and contradictory. But listening to him recount his adventures... is another matter. He can make you forget to eat, this man. The San Francisco Chronicle Reading Theroux may make you cancel your plane tickets and settle in at home instead for a great read. The sometime novelist is at his most masterful with DARK STAR SAFARI. (A) Entertainment Weekly Armchair travelers will wish the book went on twice as long -- and that is something, considering that the book runs more than 400 pages. This is a masterwork by a master writer. Minneapolis Star-Tribune Paul Theroux. Travel. Africa. You need a better reason to read? The San Diego Union-Tribune The next best thing to going to Africa is to read (compulsively) this account by Paul Theroux of his overland expedition from Cairo to Capetown. Boston Herald [Theroux] is at his writerly best when conveying the beauty and wonder of Africa. The Miami Herald A gritty lesson in history, politics, aid relief and tourism; a middle-aged man's meditation on life and travel; and, above all, a masterpiece of observations that makes sense of senseless chaos and staggering wonder. Readers will be glad Therous made the trip. Town and Country DARK STAR SAFARI reveals the mystery of Africa, a continent of incredible disparity and resilience. Playboy This new travelogue ... is perhaps his most captivating work of perigrination since The Great Railway Bazaar. The Chicago Sun-Times Theroux is the thinking man's travel writer; in a seemingly casual, wandering fashion, he delivers a complete portrait of a continent's people, politics and economy. Bookpage Part of "Dark Star Safari" is pure entertainment; travelogue in a grand, epic style. But Theroux also offers a sobering, contemporary look at the social and political morass in which much of Africa is mired. Sacramento Bee If you have even the slightest interest in Africa, travel, good writing, the modern world, the future, cities, nature, human society, love, courage--well, life in general--you are going to have to be called to the dinner table six times before you put this book down. The Chicago Tribune I know and have traveled in Africa, so I can proclaim with admiration that Theroux, the disheveled, often grumpy, sometimes euphoric sojourner who shares his latest adventures in Dark Star Safari, is an intrepid traveler worthy of the reputation that precedes him. The Houston Chronicle opinionated but informed, and highly readable. Star Ledger A marvel of observation.... Theroux is near faultless in his expression of material about Africa, a continent where he taught 40 years ago, and which he clearly loves. Buffalo News You won't find this trip advertised in travel brochures, but it's well worth taking vicariously. Atlanta Journal Constitution Neither a sensationalistic reveler in the pain of others, nor a hopeless romantic, Theroux chronicles a journey through an Africa full of decay and beauty, fear and joy, misery and perseverance. Denver Rocky Mountain News Dark Star Safari is by turns hilarious and harrowing. It is an exploration of change, both in Africa -- its ruined cities, its confouding beauty -- and in Theroux's own life. Austin Chronicle Have no fear, Paul Theroux is as grumpy as ever. In this maddening, exhilarating, frustrating and thoroughly entertaining journey through Africa, Theroux is at his bracing best... The Chicago Tribune This is the most passionate and exciting of Theroux's half-dozen major travel books. The Associated Press an exciting adventure tale, filled with fabulously wonderful characters. Santa Cruz Sentinal [Theroux's] witty observations and obvious love and curiosity for Africa should help make this entertaining epic a yardstick for future travel writing. The Daily Yomiuri [Theroux's] storytelling and eye for detail are unmatched. The Los Angeles Times Still the dean of this genre, the irascible Theroux is the ideal companion for armchair travel. The Los Angeles Times