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by V. S. Naipaul
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Naipaul can really write, but his racism taints everything. Despite that, he created quite a compelling character in Jimmy Ahmed - he could be portrayed as just a monster, or ridiculous, but he ends up being more. Jane's character is not as shallowly drawn as it might initially seem, but it's hard to get a handle on her when the perspective keeps switching from her own to how she is perceived by Roche. Meredith could have been fleshed out more; he is clearly interesting but his motivations aren't clear. Roche is intended to be the authorial narrative voice, the standard of 'reason' by which all the 'madness' of the island is measured against, but in fact he is an empty cipher, the most unconvincing character of all. The most interesting and sympathetic character (despite his crimes) is the confused, manipulated young boy Bryant. A story told from his point of view and focusing on his experiences would have been much more interesting. But Naipaul lacks the capability to tell that story, sadly. ( )
1789 Guerrillas, by V. S. Naipaul (read 13 Nov 1984) This 1975 novel is laid on a West Indian island and tells of an English girl, Jane, who comes there with Peter Roche, who had been tortured in South Africa. Jimmy Alimed is a black 'guerrilla' who Jane, for no conceivable reason, has two sexual encounters with--Naipaul paints the scene and the atmosphere of the hot awful island well, but there is nobody to care about in the story. The sex is brutal and nauseating. It is all rather obscure and supposedly freighted with more meaning than is immediately clear to me. It is not fun reading, though one must admire the writing ability of Naipaul. But he sure could have omitted the explicit nauseating repulsive sex scenes. I had not encountered anything like that in the two prior books of his I have read.
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Wikipedia in English (1)
Set on a troubled Caribbean island, where Asians, Africans, Americans and former British colonials co-exist in a state of suppressed hysteria, Guerrillas is a novel of colonialism and revolution. A white man arrives with his mistress, an Englishwoman influenced by fantasies of native power and sexuality, unaware of the consequences of her actions. Together with a leader of the "revolution", they act out a gripping drama of death, sexual violence, and spiritual impotence. Guerrillas depicts a convulsion in public life, and ends in private violence. Place and people are evoked with an intensity unrivalled elsewhere. The novel comes with extraordinary force from the centre of a profound moral awareness of the world's plight.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.914Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1945-1999
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