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A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul

A Bend in the River (original 1979; edition 2002)

by V.S. Naipaul

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Title:A Bend in the River
Authors:V.S. Naipaul
Info:Picador (2002), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Fiction, 1001

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A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul (1979)

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Naipaul did a pretty smooth job in this post colonial Africa novel.
I thought there was a good description of central African society in the 70's. Good caricatures of the various characters in the novel. These types are present in each society. I felt a little bit of Heart of Darkness here, but not as intense. ( )
  delta351 | Mar 16, 2014 |
Naipaul portrays an Africa that is caught in a pattern of corruption, meaninglessness, and failure. The characters in this novel can't seem to develop relationships; everyone seems to wander in isolation, constantly being knocked down and out by circumstances. Altogether, it's pretty depressing, certainly does nothing for the tourism industry in Africa. On the other hand, there's something about this novel that keeps your attention - maybe just the hope that things will get better. I can't say that I really enjoyed the book, but it had a certain fascination. ( )
  TerriBooks | Feb 21, 2014 |
A writer is said to be an outsider. It is easy to understand how V.S. Naipaul could meet this requirement: he came to England, from Trinidad, in 1950, at the age of 18. I would imagine, that this would have been a difficult transition to make, particularly at such a delicate age.

All the main characters in 'A Bend in the River', are stateless drifters; each time they appear to have settled, a cataclysm occurs to dislodge them. Sometimes, a character appears to have 'won' and goes off in triumph, only to turn up, a chapter or two down the line, back at square one. This is a depressing state of affairs but, what Naipaul captures beautifully, is the pleasure that we humans can get by seeing that others only appear to be racing passed us on a trajectory to success. Salim, the storey teller in this tale, is a likeable chap; a bit like you or me, and we are able to entertain these triumphs of others failures, whilst still being sufficiently an outsider as to be able to recognise the mean spiritedness of such an attitude.

It does not need me to praise Naipaul's literary style: this has been done by many of far greater standing than myself, but I am pleased to concur with the view that he is a real talent; however, I did find the end a little rushed. Salim's return to Africa, and even more so his decision to remain there for some time, seem at odds with his stateless nature. This is a minor niggle in an excellent novel which I truly enjoyed. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Dec 20, 2013 |
When faced with potential calamity in his hometown on the East Coast of Africa, an Indian man uproots his existence and travels to a remote African village situated at the bend in the river. There he becomes a shop keeper and over the course of many years weathers the tides of poverty, prosperity, and political fluctuation that affect the town.

The story is the kind of life is lifelike tales in which a character sits at the center of events without having much impact on them. The main character is thoughtful and pondering. He contemplates the life he's chosen, the shifting political poles, and his personal interactions with a kind of emotional distance.

I'd say this book was good, interesting, and worth a read, but it's not one that drew any passion from me either for the language or the story. ( )
  andreablythe | Nov 18, 2013 |
I read this book after having read "Acts of Faith" by Phillip Caputo, which is about modern day Sudan and the conficts between so many factions. Someone reviewing that book recommended this one and indeed it provides yet another look at the same problems. This book was written in 1979 and portrays post-colonial Africa; Caputo's book written in 2005 shows that situation has only gotten worse.

I had to force myself to finish this book, but when I did, I was glad. It was as if it didn't quite come together until the end. The ending was so visual, dramatic and well-written, it made the effort of reading worthwhile.

I agree with many reviewers that they are some events that are just difficult to figure out. Salim's beating of Yvette is one case in point; I just didn't get it.

I know Naipaul is an excellent writer and one that I will explore more of; however, he isn't easy. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 16, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
V. S. Naipaulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardwick, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679722025, Paperback)

In the "brilliant novel" (The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man—an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:10 -0400)

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Set in the Congo and expressing a rage at the inability of the third world to survive post colonialisation.

(summary from another edition)

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