The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux

Forty years ago the writer Paul Theroux hoisted his knapsack on his back and set off on a journey on foot around the coast of the United Kingdom; the effects of Thatcherism were being felt in earnest and the Falklands War was in progress. The Kingdom by the Sea, Theroux’s grumpy, funny account of this journey, was published the following year (1983) and caused outrage in many of the seaside towns the author had passed through and seemingly written off. In this episode the Backlisted team – Andy, John, Nicky and Tess – revisit the book, and a few books like it, to discuss whatever happened to travel writing; how Britain has changed since 1982; and what Theroux got right – and wrong – about his adopted country. In addition, John enjoys a more recent travelogue, Felicity Cloake’s new book Red Sauce Brown Sauce: A British Breakfast Odyssey (Mudlark); while Andy reads two poems from Fiona Benson’s stunning new collection Ephemeron (Cape Poetry).

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