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A House for Mr Biswas (1961)

by V. S. Naipaul

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3,137633,466 (3.76)282
Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.

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English (60)  Dutch (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
An elaborate and compassionate history of a life on Trinidad in the early twentieth century. Naipaul looked deep into the human soul and found there his inspiration to write this beautiful and touching story of a little life of a little man, who wanted nothing more than to own his own house.
  Boreque | Feb 7, 2022 |
This was a long slow read. It is a book I have on occasion seen referred to in other novels, so I had high expectations. It opens with the death of Mohun Biswas, aged 46, married and father of four children. His most satisfying achievement is dying in his own home and not that of his in-laws, the Tulsi's.
The story is set in Trinidad, Mohun is the son of Indian immigrants. The book then chronicles his life from his birth until his death. Unfortunately Mohun is not particularly likable, appearing as both gullible and petulant. Although well-intentioned, he is manipulated into an early marriage to the Tulsi's daughter, Shama, after leaving her a love note. He is soon to discover she is one of many daughters in a very large family. Despite several attempts to assert his independence from the Tulsi family, he makes erroneous decisions and is forced to co-habit with this large extended family in very close quarters.
I think what this story provides is an overview of cultural life in colonial Trinidad from the early thirties through the fifties. The story is so detailed with characters that it is evident that it is very personal. In fact the protagonist is based on the writers own father. I suspect that he himself is reflected in Mr Biswas's son Anand, who wins a scholarship to study in England. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 19, 2021 |

How weird is this? The theme song for James Bond came from an aborted musical of 'A House for Mr. Biswas.' "Why Men Bond with the 007 Theme
The manly 'James Bond Theme' hits a psychological note; feelings of invincibility, memories of Dad" ... http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444358804578018422429741896.html ( )
  AZBob1951 | Oct 27, 2021 |
I can't tell you how many times I thought about dropping this book but then I decided to plow ahead and I have to say, at almost 600 dense pages, I thought the end would never come. But it did, eventually. Set in Trinidad in the early and middle twentieth century, Mr. Biswas, possibly the most frustrated man in literature, spends the greater part of the book wishing and dreaming about owning his own home. And it takes nearly the whole book for him to do that. And yet he gets very little satisfaction from it. I'm kind of left with the feeling that no matter what you want from life, there's little chance you'll be happy with the result. Did I mention frustrating? This book is considered a classic and I believe Vaipaul is a Nobel Laureate, and although I ended up liking the book I found the main character to be so totally....I can't use the word frustrated again so....discouraged....embittered....stymied by his life that it was difficult to enjoy the beautiful prose. ( )
  brenzi | Oct 14, 2021 |
This book is big and colourful and funny, but also tragic. We begin the book with Mr Biswas on his deathbed in his house, and then spend 600+ pages finding out how he got there. He's a man who accidentally falls into marriage, various careers and a terrible extended family. He moves from house to house in the course of a life that never quite turns out as he plans. It's very vividly written. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Sep 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
V. S. Naipaulprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cavagnoli, FrancaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For this book written between 1957 and 1960 A Late Dedication
31 July 1932, Gloucester
3 February 1996, Salterton
First words
Ten weeks before he died, Mr. Mohun Biswas, a journalist of Sikkim Street, St. James, Port of Spain, was sacked.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Mister Biswas frets
takes lots of stomach powder
and lives a full life

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