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"Theroux’s practiced hand in the matter of dialogue and scene-making is strongly in evidence....It’s a particular kind of frightening fun to watch evil flexing and spreading its leathery wings, and really feel it. The Lower River gives the reader just that." -- The New York Review of Books "The Lower River is riveting in its storytelling and provocative in its depiction of this African backwater, infusing both with undertones of slavery and cannibalism, savagery and disease. Theroux exposes paternalism in Hock’s Peace Corps nostalgia, his ‘sense of responsibility, almost a conceit of ownership.’ That sense of responsibility, and Hock’s modest contribution to the welfare of a people he was once genuinely fond of, has been replaced by a harsher mode of operation, run by coldhearted contractors living apart in impregnable compounds. ‘I have to leave,’ Hock pleads. ‘I’m going home.’ To which the village headman replies, with chilling menace, ‘This is your home, father.’ " -- New York Times Book Review “Theroux’s bravely unsentimental novel about a region where he began his own grand career should become part of anybody’s education in the continent.”―Washington Post
"In this hypnotically compelling fiction, [Theroux] wrestles with questions of good intentions and harsh reality...A gripping and vital novel that reads like Conrad or Greene―in short, a classic." -- Booklist, starred "Theroux successfully grafts keen observations about the efficacy of international aid and the nature of nostalgia to a swift-moving narrative through a beautifully described landscape." -- PW, starred "Extraordinary...The suspense is enriched by Theroux’s loving attention to local customs and his subversive insights...Theroux has recaptured the sweep and density of his 1981 masterpiece The Mosquito Coast. That’s some achievement." -- Kirkus, starred "Theroux's latest can be read as straight-up suspense, but those unafraid of following him into the heart of darkness will be rewarded with much to discuss in this angry, ironic depiction of misguided philanthropy in a country dense with natural resources yet unable to feed its people." -- Library Journal