Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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, hes 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 wont only open a window into Theroux's mind, it will also impart a deeper understanding of Africa and travel in general." Kirkus, starred review
"A rich story often laced with irony, the work of a keen observer, full of colorful encounters....Ever the astute questioner, ever the curious reporter, ever a forthright witness to history and the dilemma of the oppressed, alert to political thuggery, he chronicles the crises facing the sub-Sahara." New York Journal of Books
"Thoroughly engrossing....From Cape Town to Namibia to the Okavango Delta, Theroux is his inimitable, delightfully grouchy and incisive self....If you're thinking The Last Train to Zona Verde is a journey from bliss to sorrow, you wouldn't be wrong. But it's a journey worth taking. At times tragic, often comical and always gorgeously written, this is a paean to a continent, by a writer unafraid to give it some tough love." Washington Post
The world's most acclaimed travel writer takes us on a final African journey, from Cape Town to Angola.
“Happy again, back in the kingdom of light,” writes Theroux as he sets out on a new journey though the continent he knows and loves best. He first came to Africa as a 22-year-old Peace Corps volunteer. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa and to take stock of both the place and himself. His odyssey takes him overland from Cape Town through Cape Province of South Africa, then to Namibia, where he realizes an old dream of visiting the San People (Bushmen) in the far northeast. In Botswana he enjoys an amazing elephant-back safari before venturing back through the north of Namibia into Angola, almost to the Congo. After 2,500 arduous miles through the bush, he comes to the end of his journey in more ways than one, a decision he chronicles with typical irascible honesty in a chapter called “What Am I Doing Here?”
This is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers.
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 on Cape Cod.
Table of Contents
1. Among the Unreal People 1
2. The Train from Khayelitsha 14
3. Cape Town: The Spirit of the Cape 40
4. The Night Bus to Windhoek 59
5. Night Train from Swakopmund 79
6. The Bush Track to Tsumkwe 102
7. Ceremony at the Crossroads 118
8. Among the Real People 134
9. Riding an Elephant: The Ultimate Safari 160
10. The Hungry Herds at Etosha 180
11. The Frontier of Bad Karma 200
12. Three Pieces of Chicken 222
13. Volunteering in Lubango 242
14. The Slave Yards of Benguela 268
15. Luanda: The Improvised City 297
16. “This Is What the World Will Look Like When It Ends” 320
17. What Am I Doing Here? 333