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V.S. Naipaul: books you should read after his passing

These are the books by the British Nobel prize that Goodreads users recommend the most

V.S. Naipaul: books you should read after his passing

This past August 11th, V.S. Naipaul, who won the Literature Nobel prize back in 2001, passed away. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize, the academy stated that he was chosen “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”. 

He was born in Trinidad but did most of his writing from the United Kingdom. However, in his work, he never fully abandoned the Caribbean, taking part in projects like the BBC’s program “Voices of the Caribbean”. He was also interested in countries who claimed independence in the XXth century, such as India and certain African countries that were colonized by the British.

Which of his books should you read? According to Goodreads, these 3

Goodreads, that corner of the Internet where book nerds hang out, is a powerful tool for recommendations. With the recent passing of V.S. Naipaul, we decided to look to this platform to find, amongst his most popular books, which have the best ratings.

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A House for Mr Biswas (1961)

This novel, first published in 1961, is by far Naipaul’s most popular novel, with 15,640 ratings and an average of 3.82 stars out of 5. Goodreads describes the story as follows: “Mohun Biswas has spent his 46 years of life striving for independence. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning of his father, he yearns for a place he can call home. He marries into the Tulsi family, on whom he becomes dependent, but rebels and takes on a succession of occupations in a struggle to weaken their hold over him”.

User Paul Bryant wrote a quite conflicting review, claiming that it is a slow and frustrating read, which is only saved by “ by V S Naipaul's lovely fluent prose which on more than one occasion lifts the mundane details into the heights of the sublime”. On the other hand, user Rebecca said that this book is “A life, from start to finish”, adding that “This is a book for adults--people who have struggled continually to figure out how to live their lives, people who have dealt with the opposing forces of obligation to family and the desire for independence”. 

A Bend in the River (1979)

This book has 13,425 ratings, with an average of 3.77 stars out of 5. This is how the novel is summarized on Goodreads: “When Salim, a young Indian man, is offered a small business in Central Africa, he accepts. As he strives to establish himself, he becomes closely involved with the fluid and dangerous politics of the newly-dependent state”.

It has a rather extensive review by user Sunil, who gave the book a 5 stars rating. About it he says: “I guess what is so appealing about the book is its sense of diligence, a discipline which attempts to faithfully reflect the emerging world in Africa, as it is. No more no less. Perhaps, this is why, even after half a century and million more theses written on Africa, it still reflects the essence of Africa as none of them do”. He also describes it as “a narrative of reality. And like all realities that are known to man, has no beginning or ending”.

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Miguel Street (1959)

This book has an average rating of 3.93 stars, but it is last on our list because it only has 2,926 ratings. “Set during World War II [in a corner of the capital of Trinidad] 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”, according to Goodreads.

In a review by Jigar Brahmbhatt, who gave the book 5 stars, it says: “The Caribbean street filled with lowlifes, with dreamers, with quirky, street-smart or naive characters literally comes to life in Naipaul's beautiful, beautiful prose. It is a panoramic narration - we are introduced to people one by one, a chapter at a time, and by the time we are done reading, we have lived a different, distant life with them. What makes it compulsively readable is not some cheap excuse for a plot but a deep faith in characters”.

Which of Naipaul’s books is your favorite? Do you agree or disagree with these reviewers?

 

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Rocha Rueda 

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