Over the past three decades, Theroux has reinvented the genre of travel writing.
His 1975 book The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia chronicled his journey by train from Victoria Station in London to Tokyo Central, and his return trip via the Trans-Siberian Express. This seminal work was the first of numerous accounts of travelling through Africa, China, Great Britain, India, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, the Mediterranean, and many lands in between.
In both his fiction and travel writing, Theroux continually returns to themes of social and cultural identity, often examining how individuals reflect and collide with society in the post-imperial world. The Chicago Tribune Book World called Theroux “our foremost fictional specialist in the outsized outsider, the ravenous wanderer who sees or knows or wants more than most of us allow ourselves to hope for.”
Theroux was born and raised in Medford, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in science, after which he taught English at several foreign universities. In 1967, he published his first book, the novel Waldo, and in 1971 gave up teaching to write full time. In addition to his fourteen books of nonfiction, Theroux is the author of twenty-five works of fiction, including Hotel Honolulu (2001), My Other Life (1996), Millroy the Magician (1994), and The Mosquito Coast (1982), which was made into a successful feature film starring Harrison Ford. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.