Mother Land
Penguin Books
Mother Land
HAMISH HAMILTON

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Hamish Hamilton is part of the Penguin Random House group of companies whose addresses can be found at global.penguinrandomhouse.com.

First published in the United States of America by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017

First published in Great Britain by Hamish Hamilton 2017

Copyright © Paul Theroux, 2017

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Cover design: gray318

This is a work of fiction. Although the author has drawn on events and places in his life for inspiration, the names, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and all dialogue and interaction between the characters are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental

ISBN: 978-0-141-96038-8

Contents

Part One

1: Mother of the Year

2: “This is for the Best”

3: Do You Believe in Rock and Roll?

4: Loyalty Oaths

5: Mr. Bones

6: Mother Land

7: Home Life

8: Wedding Balls

9: Self-Denial

10: The Best Year of My Life

11: Secrets

12: Disclosure

13: Visits

14: Whispers

15: Outsider

16: Crazy Bastard

17: Good Sport

18: Second Childhood

19: The Side Effects of Melancholy

Part Two

20: Holidays

21: Traitors

22: Ten Minutes from Mother

23: The Acre

24: The Cottage

25: Struggles

26: Reminders

27: The Letter

28: Charlie

29: Birthday Cards

30: Upside-Down Cake

31: My Nature is to Sting

32: Station Identification

33: Cat Burglary

34: Rewards

Part Three

35: The Algebra of Love

36: Checks and Balances

37: Defiance

38: Hot Dinners

39: A Nest of Vipers

40: Mottle Sin

41: “What Are You Doing Here?”

42: Bad News

43: Best Man

44: Winners

45: Aliens

46: My Muse

Part Four

47: Pastoral

48: Angor Animi

49: The Survivor

50: The Kindly Ones

51: Mother’s Century

52: Memento Mori

53: The Unknown

54: Arcadia

55: Clambake

56: Angela

57: Bulletins

58: Strangers

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BOOKS BY PAUL THEROUX

Fiction

WALDO

FONG AND THE INDIANS

GIRLS AT PLAY

MURDER IN MOUNT HOLLY

JUNGLE LOVERS

SINNING WITH ANNIE

SAINT JACK

THE BLACK HOUSE

THE FAMILY ARSENAL

THE CONSUL’S FILE

A CHRISTMAS CARD

PICTURE PALACE

LONDON SNOW

WORLD’S END

THE MOSQUITO COAST

THE LONDON EMBASSY

HALF MOON STREET

O-ZONE

MY SECRET HISTORY

CHICAGO LOOP

MILLROY THE MAGICIAN

MY OTHER LIFE

KOWLOON TONG

HOTEL HONOLULU

THE STRANGER AT THE PALAZZO D’ORO

BLINDING LIGHT

THE ELEPHANTA SUITE

A DEAD HAND

THE LOWER RIVER

MR. BONES

MOTHER LAND

Criticism

V. S. NAIPAUL

Non-fiction

THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

THE KINGDOM BY THE SEA

SAILING THROUGH CHINA

SUNRISE WITH SEAMONSTERS

THE IMPERIAL WAY

RIDING THE IRON ROOSTER

TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

THE HAPPY ISLES OF OCEANIA

THE PILLARS OF HERCULES

SIR VIDIA’S SHADOW

FRESH AIR FIEND

DARK STAR SAFARI

GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR

THE TAO OF TRAVEL

THE LAST TRAIN TO ZONA VERDE

DEEP SOUTH

Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, please. Mother, please, please, please. Don’t — don’t do this. Don’t do this.

Lay down your life with your child.

— Jim Jones, Jonestown “Death Speech,” November 28, 1978

Great hatred, little room,

Maimed us at the start.

I carry from my mother’s womb

A fanatic heart.

— William Butler Yeats

Part One