The first novel in six years from this Nobel laureate is set in England and Africa during the 1950s. The novel follows Willie Chandran, the son of a former brahmin and a woman of low caste, from India to London, where, among the bohemians and expatriates, he hopes to escape the burden of his heritage. As a writer of short stories, Willie tries to forge a new identity for himself, only to fail repeatedly. Escape comes when he marries a woman from Africa and accompanies her to her home on the continent. Yet the past inevitably continues to haunt him. Naipaul writes with sensitivity and expert detail of a man trying to come to terms with his ancestry. A rich exploration of the nature of colonization, cultural exile and the search for the self, this is Naipaul at his best.