Riding the Iron Rooster
Winner of the Stanford Dolman Lifetime Contribution to Travel Writing Award 2020
Paul Theroux left Victoria Station on a rainy Saturday in April thinking that taking eight trains across Europe, Eastern Europe, the USSR and Mongolia would be the easy way to get to the Chinese border – the relaxing way, even. He would read a little, take notes, eat regular meals and gaze contentedly out of windows. The reality, of course, was very different.
In fact, Theroux experienced a decidedly odd and unexpected trip to China that set the challenging tone for his epic year-long rail journey around that vast, inscrutable land – a journey which involved riding nearly every train in the country.
‘Wry, humorful and occasionally querulous … as Theroux makes excruciatingly clear, travelling alone in the Middle Kingdom is not for the faint of heart or stomach’ Time.
"[Theroux's] books have enriched the travel literature of this century...China, with its guard down, its buttons undone, and its fingers greasy, looks even more magical with a little of its mystery revealed." USA Today"[A] very funny, beautifully written, wonderfully observant, and deeply insightful description of the vagaries of life and politics in China." -- Conde Nast Traveler"Fascinating...the portrait that emerges is a luminous, almost uncanny, and situationally accurate one. Theroux is particularly good at catching the surreal quality of China." The Miami Herald"Theroux's genius is in his clear-eyed rendition of a fresh world and the deeper observations he attaches to it." The Chicago Tribune
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