Book Review: “Mother Land” by Paul Theroux

Mother Land by Paul Theroux

Prolific author Paul Theroux’s latest novel, Mother Land, is about a man’s life long relationship to his mother and his family. I hope this book is not autobiographical, because Mother Land is a hellish place, inhabited by sad, twisted, people. (The novel implies that this is based on his own life.)

The narrator is unhappy with all this, and escapes from time to time. But he is always called back, and can’t seem to resist tightly orbiting Mother and clashing with his awful siblings. Get a life, for goodness sakes!

In the end, Mother and her children waste their lives in this mess. Their. Entire. Lives.

It is difficult for me to find much to say about this tome. At 500 pages it is way too long, filled with repetition and confusing digression (including repetitions of the same confusing digressions). Lacking a plot or a point, it is all about the characters. And the characters are mostly horrible and/or stupid.   I don’t like them and don’t really understand them.

Nothing really makes sense here, unless you accept the psychotic world of the “citizens of Mother Land.”

I found this book was unpleasant to read and, in the end, not worth the effort. Ick.

I have not read much by this author, so I can’t compare his latest to earlier works. It certainly doesn’t make me want to run out and read other stuff by him.

  1. Paul Theroux, Mother Land, Boston, Houghton Miffin Harcourt, 2017.


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