The Great Railway Bazaar

Paul Theroux

Theroux's account of his four-month journey from London to Japan by train has become a classic of travel writing. Featuring a new introduction by the author.

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The Great Railway Bazaar

Now regarded as a classic, this was Paul Theroux’s first major success as a travel writer. In it he recounts his four-month journey from London to Japan and back on the world’s legendary railways, among them the Direct-Orient Express, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur and the Trans Siberian Express.

Production Details

The Great Railway Bazaar book

New introduction by the author.

Quarter-bound in cloth with Modigliani paper sides.

384 pages.

Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour plates.

Book size: 9½" x 6¾".

‘I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it'

Averse to the conventions of the genre, Paul Theroux wanted to focus on the ‘human factor’. Writing in the specially commissioned introduction to this edition, he describes his subjects as ‘truth, dialogue, chance encounters, risk’. His love of train travel gave him the perfect framework: ‘I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it. Those whistles sing bewitchment: railways are irresistible bazaars.’

‘He has done our travelling for us brilliantly’
William Goldman

Much of his dryly humorous narrative concerns his fellow passengers. Whether fleeting or heralding long friendships, his conversations with them possess the ‘easy candour’ of strangers in transit. Sadik, a slumberous Turkish tycoon, regales him with get-rich tales on the Teheran Express; on the Night Mail to Meshed a lonely British engineer seems destined to become ‘one of these elderly expatriates who hide out in remote countries’. Crossing India, he hears fantastical stories: the septuagenarian yogi who lived on air; the blind tiger and the monkey who travelled in tandem; the man who flew with wings made from palm leaves. Interwoven with these interactions are shrewd, evocative descriptions of the countries passing by. The binding of this edition features an image by Steve McCurry, whose iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ portrait appeared on a 1985 National Geographic cover. The text is illustrated with 24 pages of colour photography by McCurry and others. An endpaper traces the author’s journey. Theroux has written a new introduction for this edition.

About Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1941. after graduating from university in 1963, he traveled to africa, working as a teacher in Malawi and uganda. In 1968 he moved to Singapore, where he taught for two years before settling in the United Kingdom, first in Dorset, and then in south London. Throughout this time he wrote a number of short stories, articles, and novels, including Waldo (1967), Jungle Lovers (1971), Picture Palace (winner of the 1978 Whitbread literary award), and The Mosquito Coast (1981). In addition to The Great Railway Bazaar, his travel books include The Old Patagonian Express (1979), Riding the Iron Rooster (1988), Dark Star Safari (2002), and The Last Train to Zona Verde (2013). his latest novel is The Lower River (2012). he now lives in the United States, dividing his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands, but continues to travel widely.


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