by Julie HaleNovember, 2002
A Nobel winner takes on African history
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.