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V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at University College, Oxford, he began to write, and since then has followed no other profession. He has published more than twenty books of fiction and non-fiction, including Half a Life, A House for Mr Biswas, A Bend in the River and most recently The Masque of Africa, and a collection of correspondence, Letters Between a Father and Son. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers.
Moving beyond travelogue, The Masque of Africa considers the effects of belief (in indigenous animisms, the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam, the cults of leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of African civilization. Beginning in Uganda, at the centre of the continent, Naipaul's journey takes in Ghana and Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Gabon, and ends, as the country does, in South Africa. Focusing upon the theme of belief - though sometimes the political or economical realities are so overwhelming that they have to be taken into account - Naipaul examines the fragile but enduring quality of the old world of magic. To witness the ubiquity of such ancient ritual, to be given some idea of its power, was to be taken far back to the beginning of things. To reach that beginning was the purpose of this book.
A classic of modern travel writing, An Area of Darkness is Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul's profound reckoning with his ancestral homeland. Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by internationally acclaimed author Paul Theroux. Traveling from the bureaucratic morass of Bombay to the ethereal beauty of Kashmir, from a sacred ice cave in the Himalayas to an abandoned temple near Madras, Naipaul encounters a dizzying cross-section of humanity: browbeaten government workers and imperious servants, a suavely self-serving holy man and a deluded American religious seeker. An Area of Darkness also abounds with Naipaul's strikingly original responses to India's paralyzing caste system, its acceptance of poverty and squalor, and the conflict between its desire for self-determination and its nostalgia for the British raj. This may be the most elegant and passionate book ever written about the subcontinent.
Taking its title from the strangely frozen picture by the surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, The Enigma of Arrival tells the story of a young Indian from the Caribbean arriving in post-imperial England and consciously, over many years, finding himself as a writer. Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library, a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold-foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by Harvard Professor, Maya Jasanoff. The Enigma of Arrival is the story of a journey, from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another. Finding depth in the smallest moments - the death of a cottager, the firing of an estate's gardener - V. S. Naipaul also comprehends the bigger picture, as the old world is lost and the English landscape is changed by the march of 'progress'. This is a moving and beautiful novel told with great dignity, compassion and candour.
V. S. Naipaul's Booker Prize winning novel about displacement, the yearning for the good place in someone else's land and the attendant heartache. Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library, a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold-foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by acclaimed author, Robert McCrum. In a Free State tells the story first of an Indian servant in Washington, who becomes an American citizen but feels displaced. Then of a disturbed Asian West Indian in London who, in jail for murder, has never really known where he is. Then the central novel moves to a fictional African country. There, the central characters have to make the long drive to the safety of their compound. By the end of this drive we know everything about the English characters, the African country and the Idi Amin-like future awaiting it.
With an introduction from Paul Theroux, author of The Great Railway Bazaar. Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul first visited India in 1962 at the age of twenty-nine, hoping to settle the ghosts of a painful ancestral past. That journey was the first in what would become a decades-long project. An Area of Darkness chronicles the author's initial visit as estrangement gives way to connections and conversations. Prompted by the Emergency of 1975, India: A Wounded Civilization presents an intellectual portrait of a country whose people are no longer so willing to speak or bear witness. India: A Million Mutinies Now captures a panorama of voices and stories fifteen years later, at another moment of national upheaval. Born of Naipaul's wish to see for himself the homeland from which he was twice displaced, India emerges as an invaluable account of a nation in times of dramatic change: acutely observant, tender, at once brilliantly composed and vividly clear-sighted.
With an introduction by publisher and acclaimed author Robert McCrum. Winner of the Booker Prize 1971 and nominated for the Golden Man Booker Prize in 2018. A young Indian servant in Washington. An Asian West Indian in London. Both are far from home and both are desperately trying to build a new life in a deeply unfamiliar world. In between them lies the landscape of an unnamed country, a brutal place reminiscent of Idi Amin's Uganda. This central story is about those who once thought of Africa as liberating, but now find themselves in an increasingly harsher reality. Winner of the Booker Prize in 1971, In a Free State is one of Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul's many towering literary achievements. It is a story of the desperation and heartbreak we find in those who are displaced and who try, often in vain, to make a home in their new surroundings. Frightening, disquieting and merciless, this is one of Sir Naipaul's greatest novels: fraught but full of pity.
With an introduction by Harvard professor and author Maya Jasanoff. Taking its title from a work by the surrealist painter, Giorgio de Chirico, The Enigma of Arrival tells the story of a young Indian from the Caribbean arriving in post-imperial England and consciously, over many years, finding himself as a writer. It is the story of a journey, from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another, and is perhaps V. S. Naipaul's most autobiographical work. Finding depth and pathos in the smallest moments Naipaul also comprehends the bigger picture - watching as the old world is lost to the gradual but permanent changes wrought on the English landscape. It is a moving and beautiful novel told with great dignity, compassion, and candour.
A Bend in the River is V. S. Naipaul's vivid exploration of post-colonial Africa at the time of Independence. With an introduction by Yiyun Li, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. Salim has spent most of his life on the east coast of Africa, living and working with his family. When he sets out to build a new life for himself, moving to an unnamed country in the heart of the continent he believes he is doing so to fulfil his duty as a man. He buys a small shop in a sleepy town, at a bend in the river, where he sells sundries to the locals. First published in 1979, A Bend in the River is V.S. Naipaul's vivid exploration of post-colonial Africa at the time of Independence. Serving as a microcosm of this changing world, his bend in the river is a scene of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation and poverty. And from this rich landscape emerges one of the author's most potent works - a truly moving story of historical upheaval and social breakdown.
Post-colonial Africa is dissected with pitiless lucidity in this disturbing novel about an outsider, the young Indian trader, Salim, who has moved from the coastal settlement where he grew up to an unnamed country in the African interior (largely based on the Democratic Republic of Congo), settling on that very bend in the river where Conrad had set his Heart of Darkness some seventy years before. Salim enters a ghost town, once a flourishing European outpost, which is fast returning to the bush. A new dictator 'the Big Man' is about to impose his regime with the assistance of Raymond, 'The Big Man's White Man', whose humanitarian concerns have won him international acclaim, but whose plans for the country's future are arrogant and delusional. Salim becomes obsessed by Raymond's wife, Yvette, and begins and affair with her. Personal and political tragedy follow, civil war returns, and Salim, contemplating the disastrous course of his life since leaving home, speaks for the powerlessness of ordinary people everywhere in the face of historical upheaval: 'I couldn't protect anyone [and] no one could protect me... we could only in various ways hide from the truth... One tide of history has brought us here ... Another tide of history was coming to wash us away.'.
'Compelling, insightful, often sombrely beautiful' Sunday Telegraph Moving beyond travelogue, V. S. Naipaul's The Masque of Africa considers the effects of belief (in indigenous animisms, the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam, the cults of leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of African civilization. Beginning in Uganda, at the centre of the continent, Naipaul's journey takes in Ghana and Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Gabon, and ends, as the country does, in South Africa. Focusing upon the theme of belief - though sometimes the political or economical realities are so overwhelming that they have to be taken into account - Naipaul examines the fragile but enduring quality of the old world of magic. To witness the ubiquity of such ancient ritual, to be given some idea of its power, was to be taken far back to the beginning of things. To reach that beginning was the purpose of this book.
"e;A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say 'Slum!' because he could see no more."e; But to its residents this derelict corner of Trinidad's capital is a complete world, where everybody is quite different from everybody else. There's Popo the carpenter, who neglects his livelihood to build "e;the thing without a name."e; There's Man-man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion, and the dreaded Big Foot, the bully with glass tear ducts. There's the lovely Mrs. Hereira, in thrall to her monstrous husband. In this tender, funny early novel, V. S. Naipaul renders their lives (and the legends their neighbors construct around them) with Dickensian verve and Chekhovian compassion.Set during World War II and narrated by an unnamed-but precociously observant-neighborhood boy, Miguel Street is a work of mercurial mood shifts, by turns sweetly melancholy and anarchically funny. It overflows with life on every page.
The story of a writer's singular journey-from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another-this is perhaps Naipaul's most autobiographical work. Yet it is also woven through with remarkable invention to make it a rich and complex novel.
No writer has rendered our boundaryless, postcolonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives.On a road trip through Africa, two English people-Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys; and Linda, a supercilious "e;compound wife"e;-are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital. But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin's Uganda. And the farther Naipaul's protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims. Alongside this Conradian tour de force are four incisive portraits of men seeking liberation far from home.By turns funny and terrifying, sorrowful and unsparing, In a Free State is Naipaul at his best.
Between 1962 and 2006, V. S. Naipaul wrote six essays about India, some of his finest pieces of reflection and reportage. Approaching India through the residue of Indian culture and the scattered memories of nineteenth-century emigrants, eventually leading to a special understanding of Mahatma Gandhi, Naipaul offers an exceptional and sustained meditation on the country that was never his.These are essays, full of gentleness, humour and feeling, that take us into the mind of a great writer. 'Peerless ... the human encounters are described minutely, superbly ... there is a candour to his writing, a constant precision at its heart' - Sunday Times'Sceptical, enquiring, sharply observant and unfailingly stylish' - Guardian'The coolest literary eye and most lucid prose we have' - New York Times Book Review
With an introduction from Paul Theroux, author of The Great Railway Bazaar. V.S. Naipaul first visited India in 1962 at twenty-nine. He returned in 2015 at eighty-two. The intervening years and visits sparked by an inquisitiveness about a country he had never seen but had been a dream of his since childhood have resulted in three books: India: An Area of Darkness, A Wounded Civilization and A Million Mutinies Now. India is the collection of all three, introduced by fellow traveller and writer Paul Theroux. An Area of Darkness is V. S. Naipaul's semi-autobiographical account - at once painful and hilarious, but always thoughtful and considered - of his first visit to India, the land of his forebears. From the moment of his inauspicious arrival he experienced a cultural estrangement from the subcontinent. India was land of myths, an area of darkness closing up behind him as he travelled. What emerged was a masterful work of literature that provides a revelation both of India and of himself: a displaced person who paradoxically possesses a stronger sense of place than almost anyone. India: A Wounded Civilization casts a more analytical eye than before over Indian attitudes, while recapitulating and further probing the feelings aroused in him by this vast, mysterious, and agonized country. A work of fierce candour and precision, it is also a generous description of one man's complicated relationship with the country of his ancestors. India: A Million Mutinies Now is the fascinating account of Naipaul's return journey to India and offers a kaleidoscopic, layered travelogue, encompassing a wide collage of religions, castes, and classes at a time when the percolating ideas of freedom threatened to shake loose the old ways. The brilliance of the book lies in Naipaul's approach to a shifting, changing land from a variety of perspectives. India: A Million Mutinies Now is a truly perceptive work whose insights continue to inform travellers of all generations to India.
AN AREA OF DARKNESS'Brilliant ... tender, lyrical, explosive' ObserverV.S. Naipaul was twenty-nine when he first visited India. This is his semi-autobiographical account-at once painful and hilarious, but always thoughtful and considered-a revelation both of the country and of himself.INDIA: A WOUNDED CIVILIZATION'A devastating work, but proof that a novelist of Naipaul's stature can often define problems quicker and more effectively than a team of economists and other experts' The TimesPrompted by the Emergency of 1975, Naipaul casts a more analytical eye, convinced that India, wounded by a thousand years of foreign rule, has not yet found an ideology of regeneration.INDIA: A MILLION MUTINIES NOW'Indispensable for anyone who wants seriously to come to grips with the experience of India' New York Times Book ReviewIt is twenty-six years since Naipaul's first trip to India. Taking an anti-clockwise journey around the metropolises-including Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi-he focuses on the country's development since Independence. The author recedes, allowing Indians to tell the stories, and a dynamic oral history of the country emerges.
With an introduction by author Teju Cole, A House for Mr Biswas is Nobel Prize in Literature winner V. S. Naipaul's unforgettable masterpiece. Heart-rending and darkly comic, it has been hailed as one of the twentieth century's finest novels, a classic that evokes a man's quest for autonomy against the backdrop of post-colonial Trinidad. He was struck again and again by the wonder of being in his own house, the audacity of it: to walk in through his own front gate, to bar entry to whoever he wished, to close his doors and windows every night. Mr. Biswas has been told since the day of his birth that misfortune will follow him - and so it has. Meaning only to avoid punishment, he causes the death of his father and the dissolution of his family. Wanting simply to flirt with a beautiful woman, he ends up marrying her, and reluctantly relying on her domineering family for support. But in spite of endless setbacks, Mr. Biswas is determined to achieve independence, and so he begins his gruelling struggle to buy a home of his own.