From the Publisher
“A Tolstoyan spirit.... The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist.” — John Updike
“Naipaul is a master of English prose.” — J. M. Coetzee, New York Review of Books
“V. S. Naipaul has a substantial claim as a comic writer.... This humor, conducted throughout with the utmost stylistic quietude, is completely original.” — Kingsley Amis, The Spectator
“Mr. Naipaul travels with the artist’s eye and ear and his observations are sharply discerning.” — Evelyn Waugh
“For sheer abundance of talent there can hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V. S. Naipaul. [He is] the world’s writer, a master of language and perception.” — The New York Times Book Review
Read an Excerpt
In 1960 the government of Trinidad invited V. S. Naipaul to revisit his native country and record his impressions. In this classic of modern travel writing he has created a deft and remarkably prescient portrait of Trinidad and four adjacent Caribbean societies–countries haunted by the legacies of slavery and colonialism and so thoroughly defined by the norms of Empire that they can scarcely believe that the Empire is ending.
In The Middle Passage, Naipaul watches a Trinidadian movie audience greeting Humphrey Bogart’s appearance with cries of “That is man!” He ventures into a Trinidad slum so insalubrious that the locals call it the Gaza Strip. He follows a racially charged election campaign in British Guiana (now Guyana) and marvels at the Gallic pretension of Martinique society, which maintains the fiction that its roads are extensions of France’s routes nationales. And throughout he relates the ghastly episodes of the region’s colonial past and shows how they continue to inform its language, politics, and values. The result is a work of novelistic vividness and dazzling perspicacity that displays Naipaul at the peak of his powers.