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Town Hall Seattle: Arts & Culture Series

Town Hall’s Arts & Culture series elevates the voices of local artists while bringing world-renowned cultural icons to Seattle audiences. The series celebrates music, photography, sculpture, philosophy, heritage, and traditions around the world that enrich our lives.

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Nov 26, 2019

In times fraught with tensions across borders, some of the most critical stories are those that bring us closer to the people on the other side. Legendary travel writer Paul Theroux came to our stage with just such stories in On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey, a recollection of his drive along the entire length of the US/Mexico border and his deep foray into the hinterlands on the back roads of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Theroux met in conversation with radio host Katy Sewall to uncover the rich, layered world behind today’s brutal headlines. He visited Zapotec mill workers in the highlands and attends a Zapatista party meeting, communing with people of all stripes who remain south of the border even as their families brave the journey north. Just south of the Arizona border, in the desert region of Sonora, Theroux showed us a place brimming with vitality yet visibly marked by both the US Border Patrol looming to the north and mounting discord from within. With signature humanizing sensibility, Theroux and Sewall delved into this firsthand exploration of a region in conflict and a key to understanding the immigration debates boiling around the world.

Paul Theroux has spent his life crisscrossing the globe in search of the histories and peoples that give life to the places they call home. He is the author of many highly acclaimed books, including the novels The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast and the renowned travel books Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari.

Katy Sewall is a radio host, writer, podcast consultant, and storyteller. She is the Senior Producer and co-host of The Bittersweet Life podcast, and was the senior producer of KUOW’s “Weekday” with Steve Scher. She has worked on Radiolab and A Prairie Home Companion, and is the former Program Director at Town Hall.

Presented by Town Hall Seattle. Recorded live in The Great Hall on October 16, 2019.