Burmah sahib

It was with great expectation that I sat down to read Paul Theroux’s latest novel, Burma Sahib, the story of Eric Blair’s experience as a colonial policeman during the 1920s. A much experienced and admired master of the art of travel writing, who better to breathe life into the historical setting, landscape and people of the period? Considering his formative experiences, including working as a volunteer with the Peace Corps, in post-colonial Africa during the 1960s, Theroux seemed uniquely positioned for the job. He too had been determined to become a novelist and George Orwell had been his literary model from the beginning. Blair, fresh from Eton and temperamentally unsuited to his chosen career in the service of the British empire, was in good hands it seemed.

The late Hilary Mantel said that authors writing historical fiction “should seek out inconsistencies and gaps” and “make creative use of them”. How does Paul Theroux’s Burma Sahib satisfy her criteria?

You can read my review at The Orwell Society website.

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One Comment

    • John Rodden

    • 4 months ago

    an outstanding critique, certainly the most informed that will probably appear. unlike darcy, almost all the reviewers are ignorant of the scholarship regarding Orwell’s life, and most certainly his life in Burma. this review is a Stern yet necessary corrective to this ignorance

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