The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux
Three Novellas

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Synopsis

A master of the travel narrative weaves three intertwined novellas of Westerners transformed by their sojourns in India.

This startling, far-reaching book captures the tumult, ambition, hardship, and serenity that mark today’s India. Theroux’s Westerners risk venturing far beyond the subcontinent’s well-worn paths to discover woe or truth or peace. A middle-aged couple on vacation veers heedlessly from idyll to chaos. A buttoned-up Boston lawyer finds succor in Mumbai’s reeking slums. And a young woman befriends an elephant in Bangalore.

We also meet Indian characters as singular as they are reflective of the country’s subtle ironies: an executive who yearns to become a holy beggar, an earnest young striver whose personality is rewired by acquiring an American accent, a miracle-working guru, and others.

As ever, Theroux’s portraits of people and places explode stereotypes to exhilarating effect. The Elephanta Suite urges us toward a fresh, compelling, and often inspiring notion of what India is, and what it can do to those who try to lose--or find--themselves there.
 

About Paul Theroux

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PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.
 
Published September 26, 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 274 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Elephanta Suite

Kirkus Reviews

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The next story, “The Gateway of India,” follows the adventures of American lawyer Dwight Huntsinger, who is sent unwillingly on a business trip to India but who discovers India as a locus of his personal heart of darkness, where shameful desires can be realized and acted upon.

Sep 26 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

The New York Times

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He’s scared to eat the funny-looking food, he’s frustrated by the Indian lawyers’ obsession with contractual minutiae and he’s overwhelmed by the sight of the great throngs visible from the windows of tall, air-conditioned buildings.

Nov 11 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

The Guardian

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The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux 278pp, Hamish Hamilton, £18.99 Paul Theroux, objecting to Americans' ineligibility for the Booker prize, once said: "The year that really annoyed me was when that Polish woman, who happened to have been married to a Sikh and lived in India, won it."

Oct 06 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

The Guardian

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The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux Hamish Hamilton £18.99, pp288 Alice, the heroine of the last of these three novellas, 'The Elephant God', a young American woman on a train, feels that Indian novels haven't adequately prepared her for the experience of India.

Sep 30 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

Entertainment Weekly

In three astringent novellas, Paul Theroux pokes holes in fatuous Western illusions about India.

Oct 01 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

The Bookbag

Not to be mistaken for one of his dozen or so travel books, The Elephanta Suite is in fact the 29th work of fiction by Paul Theroux in the past 40 years.

Oct 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

San Francisco Chronicle

That's true also about the trouble encountered by a young American female backpacker named Alice in the third novella, "The Elephant God," when she goes to work teaching her U.S. accent to Indian employees at a large Bangalore call center (though, in her case, it's not the temptation India offers...

Oct 04 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

PopMatters

When Paul Theroux first appeared on the scene, his non-fiction books were a bracing corrective to the kind of second-rate saccharine gush that then and now passed for travel writing, in which every land was a land of contrasts, every resort was luxurious, and every meal to die for.

Nov 27 2007 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

The Millions

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The Millions

Paul Theroux is often best known for his travel writing, so it can be surprising to learn that a recent collection of three novellas, The Elephanta Suite, is the American author’s 30th published work of fiction.

Mar 19 2009 | Read Full Review of The Elephanta Suite: Three No...

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