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Burma Sahib by Paul Theroux
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Burma Sahib

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Narrator Charlie Anson

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Length 17 hours 49 minutes
Language English
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Brought to you by Penguin.

From renowned author Paul Theroux comes the fascinating, atmospheric tale of George Orwell's years in Burma


'There is a short period in everyone's life when his character is fixed forever . . . ' George Orwell

Before George Orwell was Orwell - the pen name he took on becoming a writer - he was Eric Blair, an unlikely policeman in Burma. 19 years old, unusually tall, highly intelligent, a diffident loner fresh from Eton, Blair stood out amongst his fellow trainees in 1920s Mandalay.

It was here, over five years in the narrow colonial world of the Raj - a decaying system steeped in overt racism and petty class-conflict - that Eric Blair became the George Orwell we know: an anti-imperialist, a socialist and a writer of rare commitment.

The inner journey he made in these years is remarkable, but in the absence of letters or diaries from the period, this richly complex transformation can only be told in fiction, as it is here by Paul Theroux, in one of his most striking and accomplished novels.

Drawing on all his powers of observation and imagination, Theroux brings Orwell's Burma years to radiant life, tracing the development of the young man's consciousness as he confronts both the social, racial and class politics of his colonial colleagues, and the reality of the Burma beyond, which he yearns to grasp.

Through one writer, we come to understand another - and to see how what Orwell called 'five boring years within the sound of bugles' were in fact the years that made him.

'Always a terrific teller of tales and conjurer of exotic locales' Sunday Times

'The most gifted, most prodigal writer of his generation' Jonathan Raban


©2024 Paul Theroux (P)2024 Penguin Audio

Paul Theroux has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including the modern classics The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, My Secret History and The Mosquito Coast. He won the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing 2020. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands.

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Reviews

[An] ambitious dramatization . . . With piercing prose, Theroux lays bare the fraudulent and fiercely despotic nature of the British Empire. This brims with intelligence and vigor Compelling. Theroux is always great with setting; here it’s not just Burma but the mind of Orwell that he persuasively inhabits Theroux’s engrossing, suspenseful novel incisively maps the start of Blair’s metamorphosis into George Orwell, resounding critic of malevolent power Theroux gives us something that Orwell couldn’t: a sense of how current and relevant his concerns about imperialism remain from the viewpoint of the present . . . Theroux has woven a much bigger narrative around what we do know [about Orwell's time in Burma] and improvised imaginatively around the things we don’t A thoughtful, fully rounded portrait of a young man coming of age in a baroque, baffling and completely fascinating place and time. At aged 82, Theroux is still a curious, thrawn, uncompromising traveller and writer. Young Eric Blair would have admired that Remarkable . . . Theroux, of course, has a parallel reputation as one of our greatest travel writers, and the Burma that he conjures in these pages is wonderfully present in lush and dense prose A vibrantly descriptive narrative Captivating . . . An engrossing story . . . Theroux, the accomplished travel writer, skillfully maps the lay of the land and transports his reader to one vividly depicted Burmese location after another . . . At the same time, Theroux, the adept novelist, ensures his reader is invested in his protagonist’s journey — both his professional arc and his emotional trajectory Thoroughly engaging . . . Theroux is now in his eighties, and has written more than fifty books, but his writing is as potent as ever. A renowned travel writer, he recreates colonial Burma with loving accuracy, showing both its great beauty and the effects of its otherness on a homesick nineteen-year-old . . . meticulous and laudably authentic . . . [Theroux’s] approach is like that of a skilful, subtle barrister who patiently lays out his evidence, gradually ensnaring the reader in the apprehension of how this might all have appeared to be necessary and acceptable . . . Burma Sahib is a work of profound relevance to the present day for the way in which it demonstrates how human beings become enslaved to systems, institutions and social codes Expand reviews
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