Burma Sahib: A Novel (Hardcover)
“Paul Theroux has exploited this biographical lacuna with great shrewdness and gusto… his fictional account of Blair’s life there [Burma] is a valid and entirely credible attempt to add flesh to the skeletal facts we have of this time. […]this novel is one of his finest, in a long and redoubtable oeuvre.” —New York Times Book Review
From the acclaimed author of The Mosquito Coast and The Bad Angel Brothers comes a riveting new novel exploring one of English literature’s most beloved and controversial figures—George Orwell—and the early years as an officer in colonial Burma that transformed him from Eric Blair, the British Raj policeman, into Orwell the anticolonial writer.
At age nineteen, young Eton graduate Eric Blair set sail for India, dreading the assignment ahead. Along with several other young conscripts, he would be trained for three years as a servant of the British Empire, overseeing the local policemen in Burma. Navigating the social, racial, and class politics of his fellow British at the same time as he learned the local languages and struggled to control his men would prove difficult enough. But doing all of this while grappling with his own self-worth, his sense that he was not cut out for this, is soon overwhelming for the young Blair. Eventually, his clashes with his superiors, and the drama that unfolds in this hot, beautiful land, will change him forever.
PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Bad Angel Brothers, The Lower River, Jungle Lovers, and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.
“Paul Theroux has exploited this biographical lacuna with great shrewdness and gusto… his fictional account of Blair’s life there [Burma] is a valid and entirely credible attempt to add flesh to the skeletal facts we have of this time. […]this novel is one of his finest, in a long and redoubtable oeuvre.” — New York Times Book Review
"A colorful, action-packed saga." — Wall Street Journal
"Stellar. ... frames an insightful portrait of a young George Orwell within a scathing depiction of British colonialism. ... With piercing prose, Theroux lays bare the fraudulent and fiercely despotic nature of the British Empire. This brims with intelligence and vigor." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“It’s a risky proposition for one writer to attempt to channel another, especially one as closely read and influential as George Orwell. But Theroux has the chops and the moxie, drawing on his experiences as a novelist and travel writer to imagine Orwell’s life-shaping sojourn in Burma with dramatic specificity. ... Theroux’s engrossing, suspenseful novel incisively maps the start of Blair’s metamorphosis into George Orwell, resounding critic of malevolent power.” — Booklist (starred review)
"From a distinguished literary veteran, a compelling historical novel about callow youth. ... Theroux is always great with setting; here it’s not just Burma but the mind of Orwell that he persuasively inhabits." — Kirkus Reviews
“Paul Theroux knows the cultural and political landscape of Burma. This riveting read provides a fascinating fictional account of Orwell’s police work during the most interesting and least known part of his career, and makes him come alive in the tropical setting.” — Jeffrey Meyers, author of Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation and Orwell: Life and Art