The Great Railway Bazaar
by Paul THEROUX
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ABOUT THE BOOK
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia is a 1975 travelogue written by the American novelist Paul Theroux. It recounts Theroux’s four-month journey across Asia by train, traveling through Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, before finally returning via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Many people consider this a classic in the genre of travel writing. The first part of the route, to India, follows the Hippie trail.
In 2006, he retraced the tracks of the original journey, finding people and places had changed, that he was famous for his earlier work but not recognised in person. He wrote an account of this journey, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. [wikipedia]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Edward Theroux (born April 10, 1941) is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work of travel writing is perhaps The Great Railway Bazaar (1975). He has also published numerous works of fiction, some of which were made into feature films. He was awarded the 1981 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel The Mosquito Coast. He is also the father of British authors and documentary makers Louis Theroux and Marcel Theroux, the brother of authors Alexander Theroux and Peter Theroux, and uncle to the American actor and screenwriter Justin Theroux. [wikipedia]
This is supposed to be a classic of the travelogue genre, but I have to admit, I did not like it.
I thought the tone was disrespectful of the people and differences the author met on his way.
More than that, the book was not even very entertaining or educational. There are very few interesting details, except when Theroux speaks about Singapore where he had lived before. Having used the train extensively in Europe myself, I know how many interesting people you can meet.
There was also too much focus on alcohol stories.
What was the most annoying was that the author seemed always to be rushing to move, to go from place to the next without taking time to get into the spirit of the place where he had stopped. As one of the travelers tells him actually somewhere in the book, this book gives me the desire NOT to go to these places. Is it really what you should get out of a travelogue? I don’t think so. I just read since a Medieval mystery focusing on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, and it gave me the desire to go there myself right away.
The only reason I kept reading was that I had chosen this book for a challenge, and as I had already to change a couple of titles for some Reading Challenges, I thought I had to stick to it.
Interestingly enough. according to my records, I read another book by Theroux a few years ago, The Elephanta Suite, and I have absolutely no memory of it. So that’s it for Theroux and me.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
DO YOU LIKE THEROUX’S BOOKS?
ANY GOOD TRAVELOGUE YOU READ RECENTLY?
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