Lower River, The

Theroux, Paul

  1 Reviews

Ellis Hock, unhappy and disenchanted with his life in small town USA, resolves to return to the one place in the world where he remembers being happy; the village of Malabo in the Lower River area of Malawi. He has high hope of regaining his equanimity, but this is a different Africa from the one he encountered decades earlier as a Peace Corps volunteer, an Africa that will bring him to the very brink.

Tackling universal questions of good and evil and highlighting the clash between the First World and the Third, this is a book guaranteed to seize and challenge the reader with its powerful writing and insider's view of contemporary Africa.

Comments from Groups

An interesting and thought-provoking read. We enjoyed the questions which promoted a wide-ranging discussion drawing on individual experiences of travelling and living in impoverished countries. Wanaka 009

A rewarding if uncomfortable read. So well written - and will linger in our minds for a long time. Christchurch 143

Members found this Theroux novel "dark' and 'gripping', and emotions ranged from "intrigue" to feeling "uncomfortable". For many it "confronted our values system and views on life". As a result the discussion was lengthy, personal, heartfelt and enlightening. Theroux writes superbly about the geography and social context of Africa. Having lived there himself, his descriptive skills are outstanding. Ome member said it was a "book of messages' and we certainly got a lot from it... Christchurch 320

Enjoyable, riveting, challenging and well written page-turner. Recommended to other readers. Wellington 047

Very mixed responses to this book from 'didn't finish' to "loved every bit of it'. It generated a lot of discussion on international aid (its benefits or otherwise); corruption; and the degrees of benefit offered by the various agencies. All agreed that the writing was brilliant but the subject very dark. Nelson 019

For a book that no-one really liked, it certainly created a lot of discussion. We mostly talked about overseas aid and how it is distributed etc. Is it really helpful, or should we be providing more technical help rather than handouts? Auckland 293



Most of us admired the writing and were moved by the subject matter of The Lower River. It's not an easy read, and at least one member did not persist with it. The book deals with African issues from the point of view of an ageing American man and so is both a piece of post-colonial literature and a study of growing old and losing the illusions of youth. Paul Theroux is a wonderful stylist, but the subject matter is on the grim side.