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Category Archive for 'Mozambique'

V. S. Naipaul’s Nobel Prize for Literature celebrates the long and illustrious career of a writer of extraordinary narrative gifts, amply demonstrated in this novel. The reader can choose any page of the book at random and be stunned by a graceful turn of phrase, a unique observation, the pleasing alternation of starkly simple and elegantly complex sentences, or a perceptive comment presented with grace. Though it is relatively short, it is dense in its thematic development, tracing the peripatetic life of Willie Somerset Chandran across three continents, and from his teen years to his early 40’s, as he attempts to fit in, to be part of some mainstream. The offspring of a Brahmin functionary in a maharajah’s court and an Untouchable woman, someone to whom his father was drawn temporarily in an effort to emulate the sacrifice of Gandhi, Willie belongs to neither group, an outsider even to the lowest caste. Because Naipaul has mined the theme of displacement repeatedly in his novels and non-fiction, one cannot avoid wondering how much of this book is autobiographical.

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