Novelist and travel writer, born in Medford, Massachusetts, USA. He studied at the University of Maine (1959–60), the University of Massachusetts (1963 BA), and Syracuse University (1963). He was a lecturer in English in Malawi as a member of the Peace Corps (1963–5) but was expelled on a charge of spying. He continued to teach in Uganda (1965–8) and in Singapore (1968–71), then settled in London. He wrote of the expatriate life, and won critical praise for his travel accounts, such as The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia (1975) and The Old Patagonian Express (1979) - a genre which continued with Travelling the World (1990) and other books. His novels include Waldo (1969), Saint Jack (1973, filmed 1979), Picture Palace (1978, Whitbread), the highly acclaimed The Mosquito Coast (1981, James Tait Black, filmed 1987), Chicago Loop (1990), The Pillars of Hercules (1995), and Kowloon Tong (1997). Among later novels are Hotel Honolulu (2001) and Blinding Light (2005). He has also written short stories, plays, children's books, reviews, and works of criticism - notably, an appraisal of his teacher and mentor in V S Naipaul: An Introduction to His Works (1972).
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