Ellis Hock never believed he would ever return to Africa - to his isolated village where he was happiest. He runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his eden in Africa, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. When his wife leaves him, taking the family home, and his daughter demands her share of his eventual will, he realises that there is one place for him to go: back to Malawi, on the remote Lower River, where he will be happy again
Arriving at the dusty village he finds it transformed: the school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have set in among the people. They remember him - the foreigner with no fear of snakes - and welcome him back. But is his new life, his journey back, an escape or a trap?
Interweaving memory and desire, hope and despair, salvation and damnation, this is a hypnotic, compelling and brilliant return to a terrain no one has ever written better about than Theroux: the tragic stage of modern Africa, AIDS-ravaged and despairing in the face of creeping consumerism, greed and dependence.