T. Coraghessan Boyle's first novel, published in 1981. A work of historical fiction, it tells the story of Mungo Park, a late 18th century Scottish explorer who was the first European man to see the Niger River and live to tell the tale. Park's memoirs Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa served as the factual basis for the book. Intertwined in the story of Mungo, the book also tells the fictional tale of Ned Rise, a common thief and pimp from the fetid slums of London.
It is written in a style that mimics and mocks novels of the 18th and the 19th century. Park is an often naive Christian Soldier who blunders his way through wildest Africa. Anti-hero Rise is a scoundrel who escapes death at every turn.
My favorite book of all time.