The Lower River
Title: The Lower River
Author: Paul Theroux
Idealizing the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, Ellis Hock is abruptly divorced by his wife and decides to return to Africa only to find the region devastatingly transformed by poverty and apathy.
Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa. He runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. When his wife leaves him, and he is on his own, he realizes that there is one place for him to go: back to his village in Malawi, on the remote Lower River, where he can be happy again.
Arriving at the dusty village, he finds it transformed: the school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have set in among the people. They remember him—the White Man with no fear of snakes—and welcome him. But is his new life, his journey back, an escape or a trap?
Interweaving memory and desire, hope and despair, salvation and damnation, this is a hypnotic, compelling, and brilliant return to a terrain about which no one has ever written better than Theroux.