Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux
Photo by Steve McCurry

Paul Theroux (‘The world’s most perceptive travel writer’--Daily Mail) is the author of many highly acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), The Mosquito Coast (1981) Riding the Iron Rooster (1983), and Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories (2014). In 2015, Paul Theroux was awarded a Royal Medal from the Royal Geographical Society for “the encouragement of geographical discovery through travel writing.” This award, approved by the Queen, is the highest award attainable for a traveler, and Theroux joins the ranks of recipients including Sir Edmund Hillary, Admiral Richard Byrd and Dr. Thor Heyerdahl. His other awards includethe American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters Award for literature; the Whitbread Prize for his novel, Picture Palace; and the James Tait Black Award for The Mosquito Coast. His travelogue, The Old Patagonian Express: By Train through the Americas,and The Mosquito Coast were both nominated for the American Book Award. His novels Saint Jack, The Mosquito Coast, Doctor Slaughter and Half Moon Street have been made into films and his short-story collection London Embassy was adapted for a British mini-series in 1987. Theroux holds honorary doctorates from three American universities and remains a highly sought-after speaker nationwide.

In The New York Times Book Review, Francine Prose called his story collection Mr. Bones “a series of characteristically dark and sharply focused snapshots from the world that Theroux has observed–and invented.” Theroux’s book Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads(2015), was described by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review as “an epically compelling travel memoir,” and a Publishers Weekly starred review called it “Theroux’s best outing in years.” In a starred review, Publishers Weekly describes the essay collection Figures in a Landscape(2018) as “a magisterial grouping of intimate remembrances, globe-trotting adventures, and incisive literary critiques.”

In 2016, the Huntington Library in Pasadena, Calif. acquired Paul Theroux’s papers for its collection, covering the period from 1965 to 2015. The Theroux Archive at the Huntington Library includes notebooks, autograph drafts, unpublished texts, and corrected typescript drafts for nearly all of Theroux’s 51 books, as well as extensive and significant correspondence from the Nobel Prize-winning novelist V.S. Naipaul and many other writers, including Graham Greene, S.J. Perelman, Nadine Gordimer, Margaret Drabble, Iris Murdoch, Stephen Spender, Gore Vidal, Laurens van der Post, Jan Morris, William Styron, and Bruce Chatwin. “One of the most accomplished and worldly-wise writers of his generation” (The Times, London), Paul Theroux lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

Writers Festival Appearances