A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River

Book - 1979
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'Brilliant and terrifying' Observer I had to be the man who was doing well and more than well, the man whose drab shop concealed some bigger operation that made millions. I had to be the man who had planned it all, who had come to the destroyed town at the bend in the river because he had foreseen the rich future. '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 The Europeans have withdrawn or been forced to withdraw and the scene is one of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation, poverty and a lack of prepartion for the modern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.' Elizabeth Hardwick 'Always a master of fictional landscape, Naipaul here shows, in his variety of human examples and in his search for underlying social causes, a Tolstoyan spirit' John Updike Set in an unnamed African country, the book is narrated by Salim, a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast. He believes "The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it." So he has taken the initiative; left the coast; acquired his own shop in a small, growing city in the continent's remote interior and is selling sundries - little more than this and that, really - to the natives. This spot, this 'bend in the river', is a microcosm of post-colonial Africa at the time of Independence: a scene of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation and poverty. And from this rich landscape emerges one of the author's most potent works - a truly moving story of historical upheaval and social breakdown.
Publisher: London : Picador, c1979
ISBN: 9780330487146
0330487140
9780140052589
0140052585
9780676975130
Branch Call Number: NAIPAUL
Characteristics: 326 p

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samutavi Aug 15, 2013

The plight of this character was so sad to me. He is disconnected from everything and everyone. His existence is so inconsequential that you can imagine he does not even leave footprints. His ineffectiveness is crushing and yet the story is so beautiful at the same time. Sometimes the absence of all that you yearn for is a reminder of how wonderful it is to yearn for something. Does that make sense?

Ansel1 Aug 06, 2012

Naipaul has an easy, flowing writing style. I lived in Africa for a couple of years and his descriptions of culturally based actions and events are, by my account anyway, well perceived.

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