Author: V S Naipaul
Publisher: Picador India
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0330487140
Salim, the narrator, is a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast of Central Africa. Salim has left the coast to make his way in the interior, there to take on a small trading shop of this and that, sundries, sold to the natives. The place is " a bend in the river"; it is Africa.
The time is post-colonial, the time of Independence. The Europeans have withdrawn or been forced to withdraw, and the scene is one of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation, poverty, and a lack of preparation for the modern world they have entered, or partially assumed as a sort of decoration.
It is a story of historical upheaval and social breakdown. Naipaul has fashioned a work of intense imaginative force. It is a haunting creation, rich with incident and human bafflement, played out in an immense detail of landscape rendered with a poignant brilliance.
Always a master of fictional landscape, Naipual here shows, in his variety of human examples and in his search for underlying social causes, a Tolstoyan spirit.
- John Updike
Brilliant and terrifying
The Second Rebellion
The New Domain
The Big Man