Friday, 21 May 2010

A Bend in the River

Title: A Bend in the River

Author: V.S. Naipaul

Number of pages: 336

Started: 14 May 2010

Finished: 21 May 2010

Opening words:

The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.

Plot summary:

Salim, the narrator, is a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast of Central Africa. Salim has left the coast to make his way in the interior, there to take on a small trading shop of this and that, sundries, sold to the natives. The place is "a bend in the river"; it is Africa. The time is post-colonial, the time of Independence. The Europeans have withdrawn or been forced to withdraw and the scene is one of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation, poverty and a lack of preparation for the modern world they have entered, or partially assumed as a sort of decoration. It is a story of historical upheaval and social breakdown. Naipaul has fashioned a work of intense imaginative force. It is a haunting creation, rich with incident and human bafflement, played out in an immense detail of landscape rendered with a poignant brilliance.

What I thought:

This book had moments of brilliance and some really beautiful writing at times. But at other times, I found it dragged and didn’t really flow.

It was a decent enough read, and by a Nobel Prize Winner no less, but I found that the book didn’t consistently draw me in in the way that I hoped it would. But it was a well written and decently plotted book and there were pats of it that were to be savoured. But as a book as a whole, I found that it didn’t quite work for me.

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