Paul Theroux at Lismore Travel Writing Festival

| July 9, 2013 | 0 Comments
Paul Theroux at Lismore

With one of my inspirations, the great travel writer Paul Theroux at Lismore Travel Writing Festival

It’s not often we have the chance to meet our heroes but I got a chance to meet one of mine at the Lismore Travel Writing Festival last month. Paul Theroux – arguably the father of modern travel writing – was the keynote speaker at a packed Blackwater Community Hall for the renowned travel writing festival.

Theroux has a reputation for being grumpy but he certainly didn’t seem that way as he talked about his many travels, especially in Africa.

When asked about what makes great travel writing, he replied that it was important to describe the “human architecture” of the place. It was more important to take an interest in the lives of people instead of checking off a list of museums and monuments. I have to agree.

I first read Riding the Iron Rooster as a teenager and it inspired me to visit China. The Great Railway Bazaar is one of the greatest travel writing books. The Happy Isles of Oceania charts his voyages via canoe amongst the Pacific islands. He inspired my love of travel writing.

Theroux was glowing in his praise of local travel writing legend Dervla Murphy. He first heard of her when she was travelling across Ethiopia by mule. His comments on foreign aid comments are controversial as he criticised the role played by Bono in African affairs. He’s lived and travelled in Africa for many years so I think he’s entitled to his opinion.

He is, and still remains, one of the great travel writers of our time.

Paul Theroux’s Classic Travel Writing Books

The Great Railway Bazaar

The Mosquito Coast

Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China

The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

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About the Author ()

John Dwyer is a travel writer and blogger. His first book High Road to Tibet: Travels in China, Tibet, Nepal and India became an Amazon best-seller. His latest book Klondike House: Memories of an Irish Country Childhood recalls his years growing up on a rural farm in Ireland.

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