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Summary

No writer has rendered our boundaryless, postcolonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives.

On a road trip through Africa, two English people - Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys; and Linda, a supercilious "compound wife" - are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital. But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin's Uganda. And the farther Naipaul's protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims. Alongside this Conradian tour de force are four incisive portraits of men seeking liberation far from home.

By turns funny and terrifying, sorrowful and unsparing, In a Free State is Naipaul at his best.

©2011 V. S. Naipaul (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Saman
  • 19-07-18

Magical Prose …

This is a biased review. I love Naipaul and his style of writing, His books are so beautifully threaded, they are impossible to put down. Of course this offering was the 1971 Booker prize winner. As many will know, there was controversy in the selection that year from the committee with many shenanigans. But the author and book won anyways.

The story – well 5 of them actually, are all wonderful. The first and last being a travelogue of sorts with the first leaving a bitter taste due to its subject matter of nauseating bullying. In between are some captivating stories that illuminate the pen strokes of Naipaul. Most revel in the novella that captures an automobile ride of two British nationals across the African plane. Some say in Uganda. I myself preferred the hilariously funny “One Out of Many” short story. In it, a backward Indian servant named Santosh is brought by plane to the USA by his employer with ridiculous results. There is also the short story of two Trinidadian Indian brothers who end up in London, suffering many immigrant disappointments.

This book is unlike any other from the author. Yet each story is vintage Naipaul. Loved them all.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful