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Bangkok Post interviews Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux has been writing novels and travel books since 1967 when he was 25 years old. His 1973 novel Saint Jack, set in Singapore, is classic expat literature. The Consul’s File is set in Malaysia, is a collection of brilliant short stories, which hold up well years after publication. His novel Kowloon Tong chronicled one families disintegration after the British handover to mainland China 1997. Along with The Elephanta Suite (three novellas, 2007) is set in India. In other words, Theroux’s fiction has a long and distinguished association with Asia and his fiction has inspired a generation of expat authors. I can personally recommend the titles mentioned above. For anyone living in Asia, they provide a 35-year perspective on cultural and social transformation of expat life. A good place to start is with Saint Jack.

In Camilla Russell’s piece titled “The Traveling Man” she asked Paul Theroux:

“Do you believe that anyone can become a writer nowadays if they have a passport and notebook computer?”

Theroux replied:

“Yes, anyone can write, and most people can write a book, but the hard thing is to find someone to read the material. So everyone can write, but not everyone will find readers. The point of writing is finding someone who cares about what you write about. This should be the vision of a writer ... to persuade the reader that what they are reading is the truth and that it will alter their view of the world. Otherwise what you're doing is just wasting your time.”

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