Paul Theroux’s New Novel: ‘A Dead Hand’

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  11.18.09 | 1:50 PM ET

Paul Theroux’s new novel isn’t scheduled to be released in the U.S. until February 2010, but it’s already getting mixed reviews in the British press. It’s a mystery of sorts set in Calcutta and featuring a down-on-his-luck travel-writer-protagonist named Jerry Delfont.

Intriguingly, writes Doug Johnstone in The Independent:

Midway through the book, Delfont meets a fictional veteran US travel writer called Paul Theroux, a more successful and famous version of Delfont, whom he despises. The next 20 pages amount to a diatribe by Delfont about the act of travel writing, describing it as an emotionally stunted, puerile and selfish pastime, and brutally denouncing anyone who is stupid and arrogant enough to do it. This remarkable interlude is compelling, like rubbernecking a psychological car crash - but the rest of the novel is distinctly patchy, the bad points eventually outweighing the good.

Apparently the sex writing in the book leaves something to be desired. Once again, Theroux has been nominated for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex in Fiction award.

2 Comments for Paul Theroux’s New Novel: ‘A Dead Hand’

ron 11.21.09 | 3:39 AM ET

Sounds like an interesting novel.

Paddy O'docharty 12.01.09 | 4:54 AM ET

Theroux is without question a analyzing genius from the point of view of a mid 20th century American North eastern voyeur traveler type. A very rare breed indeed. To even come close to understanding his rail dribble it is absolutely necessary for one to have experienced some form of overnight Train clatter before senility pickles the bones. Pauls insight into third world despotics and Hemmingway bullies forgives his lack of conservative views. Perhaps his extensive exposure to the teaching profession underminded his otherwise open intelect as to the strenth of Americans Free interprise system. His children will surley miss it when its passed. Bad Sex Award? Is it really possible for a voyeur to have bad sex???

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