Dark Star Safari

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, Paul Theroux travels solo from Egypt to South Africa in search of the continent he left behind when he returned from teaching English for the Peace Corps in Malawi and Uganda. His recollections of Africa were of proud, diverse people; of cultures rich in heritage and tradition; of countries just on the brink of independence from European colonialism. He wanted to return to learn what had happened when Africa became free.

Theroux is a curmudgeon, a brave traveler and a skeptic, honestly offering readers portraits of cruel post-colonial tyranny, heartbreaking poverty, and desperate hopelessness. For anyone wanting an unfiltered picture of early twenty-first century Africa, Theroux’s account will be eye-opening. Not only does he detail his own adventures in vivid prose, but he also recounts—often in their own words—the hardships of the Africans whom he meets. The towns, villages, and open lands he passes through from Cairo to Cape Town hardly resemble the places he remembers so fondly. Everywhere he goes he finds devastated villages, hunger, petty dictators, fear, and the threat of violence. Yet despite the depressing realities of this changed Africa, Theroux tells his stories and those of the Africa he explores as a solo traveler with honesty, compassion, and gusto, leaving the reader glad to have shared his journey.

Review Sources

Booklist 99, no. 11 (February 1, 2003): 954-955.

The Boston Globe, April 6, 2003, p. C9.

The Christian Science Monitor, March 20, 2003, p. 20.

Kirkus Reviews 70, no. 24 (December 15, 2002): 1835.

Library Journal 128, no. 1 (January 1, 2003): 140.

Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2003, p. E9.

The Nation 276, no. 12 (March 31, 2003): 40-43.

The New York Times Book Review 152, no. 52501 (June 1, 2003): 21.

Publishers Weekly 250, no. 1 (January 6, 2003): 49.

The Washington Post Book World, March 30, 2003, p. 8.