The Enigma of Arrival

( 6 )

Overview

The autobiographical novel of a journey from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England.

Perhaps Naipaul's most autobiographical work, this is the story of a writer's singular journey from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England.

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The Enigma of Arrival

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Overview

The autobiographical novel of a journey from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England.

Perhaps Naipaul's most autobiographical work, this is the story of a writer's singular journey from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Naipaul's finest work so far." —Chicago Tribune

"An elegant memoir, a subtly incisive self-reckoning." —The Washington Post Book World

"Far and away the most curious novel I've read in a long time, and maybe the most hypnotic book I've ever read." —St. Petersburg Times

"The conclusion is both heart-breaking and bracing: the only antidote to destruction—of dreams, of reality—is remembering. As eloquently as anyone now writing, Naipaul remembers." —Time

"V.S. Naipaul is a man who can inspire readers to follow him through the Slough of Despond and beyond.... Like a computer game [this book] leads the reader on by a series of clues, nearer and nearer to an understanding of the man and the writer. Few memoirs can claim as much." —Newsday

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Discursive and ruminative, more like an extended essay than a novel, the intricately structured chapters in this highly autobiographical book reveal "the writer defined by his . . . ways of seeing.'' Naipaul, in his own person, narrates a series of events, beginning during a period of soul-healing in Wiltshire, circling back to the day of his departure from Trinidad in 1950 when he was 18, describing his time in London before he went up to Oxford, moving back to Trinidad after his sister's death: these journeys are a metaphor for his life. With beautiful use of detail recaptured from an extraordinary memory, with exquisitely nuanced observations of the natural world and his own interior landscape, he shows how experience is transmogrified after much incertitude and paininto literature. This is a melancholy book, the testament of a man who has stoically willed himself to endure disappointment, alienation, change and grief. Naipaul lays bare the loneliness, vulnerability and anxieties of his life, the sensibility that is both an asset for the writer and a burden for the man. He demonstrates this brilliantly by describing other peoplemainly his neighbors in a village near Stonehenge. Using these characters as catalysts, Naipaul peels back protective layers of memory, sparing himself nothing, revealing the mistakes and inadequacies of his life. The drama resides in small incidents: the death of a cottager, the firing of an estate's gardener; with each account, the narrative is spun more tightly into a seamless tapestry, a powerful document by a master of his craft.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394757605
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1988
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 774,011
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

V. S. Naipaul
V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He has published more than 20 books of fiction and nonfiction, including A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River, The Enigma of Arrival and An Area of Darkness. He lives in Wiltshire, England. He was knighted in 1990 and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

Biography

V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at University College, Oxford, he began to write, and since then has followed no other profession. He has published more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Half a Life, A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River, and a collection of letters, Between Father and Son. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Wiltshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 17, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chaguanas, Trinidad
    1. Education:
      Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, 1943-48; B.A., University College, Oxford, 1953

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 6, 2012

    Enigma is a novel that requires time, attention, and multiple re

    Enigma is a novel that requires time, attention, and multiple readings to be fully appreciated, but the effort is well worth the reward. In this complicated metafiction Naipaul only hints at the identity of the narrator, making the experiences and emotions less personal and more universal. The recurring references to literature and the writing process transform the ideas of change, death, sight, family, and identity into relatable and tangible concepts. This is not light reading, but it is enlightening reading.

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    Posted August 9, 2011

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