The Lower River: A Novel

by Paul Theroux

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | June 1, 2012 | Hardcover

The Lower River: A Novel is rated 4 out of 5 by 1.
Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa. He runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. When his wife leaves him, and he is on his own, he realizes that there is one place for him to go: back to his village in Malawi, on the remote Lower River, where he can be happy again. Arriving at the dusty village, he finds it transformed: the school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have set in among the people. They remember him-the White Man with no fear of snakes-and welcome him. But is his new life, his journey back, an escape or a trap? Interweaving memory and desire, hope and despair, salvation and damnation, this is a hypnotic, compelling, and brilliant return to a terrain about which no one has ever written better than Theroux.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 pages, 9.08 × 6.42 × 1.07 in

Published: June 1, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0547746504

ISBN - 13: 9780547746500

Found in: Literary

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strong story this is a dark but engaging story of a white man in an isolated but changing corner of Africa..
Date published: 2014-04-01
Rated out of 5 by from Excellent read as always from Mr. Theroux. This story is fiction and like his earlier novel The Mosquito coast, can show how the best laid plans and intentions can go horrifically wrong. I'm sure he had to have taken some of what happens to the main character, from his Non-fiction book Dark Star Safari ( another great read).
Date published: 2012-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! Ellis Hock runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps.As Ellis decides to return to Malawi, he realizes things are not the same as when he was there as a young man.
Date published: 2012-04-22

– More About This Product –

The Lower River: A Novel

The Lower River: A Novel

by Paul Theroux

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 pages, 9.08 × 6.42 × 1.07 in

Published: June 1, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0547746504

ISBN - 13: 9780547746500

About the Book

A taut, tense, darkly suspenseful novel about a man who flees to Africa afterhis marriage falls apart, only to be caught up in a precarious situation in aseemingly benign village.

Read from the Book

Part OneSaying Goodbye Ellis hock’s wife gave him a new phone for his birthday. A smart phone, she said. “And guess what?” She had a coy, ham-actress way of offering presents, often pausing with a needy wink to get his full attention. “It’s going to change your life.” Hock smiled because he was turning sixty-two, not an age of life-altering shocks but only of subtle diminishments. “It’s got a whole bunch of functions,” Deena said. It looked frivolous to him, like a costly fragile toy. “And it’ll be useful at the store”—Hock’s Menswear in Medford Square. His own phone was fine, he said. It was an efficient little fist, with a flip-up lid and one function. “You’re going to thank me.” He thanked her, but weighed his old phone in his hand, as a contradiction, showing her that his life wasn’t changing.  To make her point (her gift-giving could be hostile at times, and this seemed like one of them), Deena kept the new phone but registered it in his name, using his personal email account. After she was signed up, she received his entire year’s mail up to that day, all the messages that Hock had received and sent, thousands of them, even the ones he had thought he’d deleted, many of them from women, many of those affectionate, so complete a revelation of his private life that he felt he’d been scalped—worse than scalped, subjected to the dark magic of the sort of mganga he had known long ago in Africa, a witch doctor–diviner turning him inside out, the slippery spilled mess of his en
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From the Publisher

Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa. He runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. When his wife leaves him, and he is on his own, he realizes that there is one place for him to go: back to his village in Malawi, on the remote Lower River, where he can be happy again. Arriving at the dusty village, he finds it transformed: the school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have set in among the people. They remember him-the White Man with no fear of snakes-and welcome him. But is his new life, his journey back, an escape or a trap? Interweaving memory and desire, hope and despair, salvation and damnation, this is a hypnotic, compelling, and brilliant return to a terrain about which no one has ever written better than Theroux.

About the Author

PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari . He lives in Hawaii and Cape Cod."

Editorial Reviews

"Theroux’s practiced hand in the matter of dialogue and scene-making is strongly in evidence....It’s a particular kind of frightening fun to watch evil flexing and spreading its leathery wings, and really feel it. The Lower River gives the reader just that." -- The New York Review of Books "The Lower River is riveting in its storytelling and provocative in its depiction of this African backwater, infusing both with undertones of slavery and cannibalism, savagery and disease. Theroux exposes paternalism in Hock’s Peace Corps nostalgia, his ‘sense of responsibility, almost a conceit of ownership.’ That sense of responsibility, and Hock’s modest contribution to the welfare of a people he was once genuinely fond of, has been replaced by a harsher mode of operation, run by coldhearted contractors living apart in impregnable compounds. ‘I have to leave,’ Hock pleads. ‘I’m going home.’ To which the village headman replies, with chilling menace, ‘This is your home, father.’ " -- New York Times Book Review   “Theroux’s bravely unsentimental novel about a region where he began his own grand career should become part of anybody’s education in the continent.”—Washington Post "In this hypnotically compelling fiction, [Theroux] wrestles with questions of good intentions and harsh reality...A gripping and vital novel that reads like Conrad or Greene—in short, a classic." -- Booklist, starred     "Theroux successfully grafts keen observations about the efficacy of international aid
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