Saturday, January 12, 2013

Novel Readings

My latest read is V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in The River. It can be considered another lens on Africa, in this case, immediately post-colonial Africa. Naipaul is a Trinidad born writer of Indian ancestry, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and often considered the finest writer in English currently around.

India has been trading with Africa for many centuries, and the narrator is a member of an Indian community living on the East coast of Africa. Just after the end of the European colonial empires he goes to seek his fortune deep in the interior of Africa, buying a trading store at a bend in the big river, in a little town just starting to recover from post-colonial violence - a setting nearly identical in space if later in time than that of my last two novel reads - Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

Not quite sure where the story is going yet, but I can say that the author fully lives up to his reputation. He is a terrific stylist with a great eye for illuminating details. The reader quickly finds himself immersed in place and culture.