V. S. Naipaul

Sir Vidiadhar SurajprasadVidia’ Naipaul, TC (/ˈvɪdjɑːdər ˌsrəprəˈsɑːd ˈnpɔːl, nˈpɔːl/; born 17 August 1932), is an Indo-Caribbean writer and Nobel Laureate who was born in Trinidad with British citizenship. He is known for his comic early novels set in Trinidad and Tobago, his bleaker later novels of the wider world, and his autobiographical chronicles of life and travels. He has published more than thirty books, both of fiction and nonfiction, over some fifty years. … For his next novel, A House for Mr Biswas (1961), Naipaul took for inspiration childhood memories of his father (later he wrote that the novel ‘destroyed memory’ in some respects). In the novel, title character Mohun Biswas takes a succession of vocations (apprentice to a Hindu priest, signboard painter; a grocery store proprietor, and reporter for The Trinidad Sentinel). What ambition and resourcefulness Mr Biswas has are inevitably undermined by his dependence on his powerful in-laws and the vagaries of the colonial society in which he lives. … Naipaul showed interest in the great culture, history and traditions of the Baganda people. … Naipaul also travelled to Tanzania with a young American he had met in Kampala, Paul Theroux. It was upon this African experience that Naipaul would draw during the writing of his next book, In a Free State, published in 1971.  In the title novella, ‘In a Free State’, two young expatriate Europeans drive across an African country, which remains nameless but which offers clues of Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda. The novella speaks to many themes. The colonial era ends and Africans govern themselves. Political chaos, frequently violent, takes hold in newly decolonized countries. Young, idealistic, expatriate whites are attracted to these countries, seeking expanded moral and sexual freedoms. They are rootless, their bonds with the land tenuous; at the slightest danger they leave. The older, conservative, white settlers, by contrast, are committed to staying, even in the face of danger. The young expatriates, though liberal, can be racially prejudiced. The old settlers, unsentimental, sometimes brutal, can show compassion. The young, engrossed in narrow preoccupations, are uncomprehending of the dangers that surround them. The old are knowledgeable, armed, and ready to defend themselves. The events unfolding along the car trip and the conversation during it become the means of exploring these themes. …”
W – A House for Mr Biswas, W – The Mimic Men, W – A Flag on the Island, W – In a Free State, W – Guerrillas, W – A Bend in the River
Guardian: V. S. Naipaul

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