A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River

by V. S. Naipaul


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A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul

In the "brilliant novel" (The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man—an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679722021
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/28/1989
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 57,506
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He came to England on a scholarship in 1950. He spent four years at University College, Oxford, and began to write, in London, in 1954. He pursued no other profession.
His novels include A House for Mr Biswas, The Mimic Men, Guerrillas, A Bend in the River, and The Enigma of Arrival. In 1971 he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State. His works of nonfiction, equally acclaimed, include Among the Believers, Beyond Belief, The Masque of Africa, and a trio of books about India: An Area of Darkness, India: A Wounded Civilization and India: A Million Mutinies Now.
In 1990, V.S. Naipaul received a knighthood for services to literature; in 1993, he was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. He lived with his wife Nadira and cat Augustus in Wiltshire, and died in 2018.


Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

August 17, 1932

Place of Birth:

Chaguanas, Trinidad


Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, 1943-48; B.A., University College, Oxford, 1953

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"For sheer abundance of talent, there ca hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V.S. Naipaul." —The New York Times Book Review

"Confirms Naipaul's position as one of the best writers now at work." —Walter Clemons, Newsweek

"The sweep of Naipaul's imagination, the brilliant fictional frame that expresses it, are in my view without equal today." —Elizabeth Hardwick

Customer Reviews

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Bend in the River 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book unfolds slowly, so if you are looking for action, pass on it. The writing and character development are perfection. The tension in the main character's life is pressure cooked and patiently drawn out. An outstanding look at the effects of colonialism and Africa's struggle to exist on it's own. It's a beautiful book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Bend in the River is an engaging story in which a young Indian store owner describes his life in a war-torn, dying town in the middle of Africa. Having never lived in a similar situation, I couldn¿t directly relate to the feelings of impending destitution mixed with (sometimes strangely successful) desperate grasps at fortune-making schemes. However, I was amused (and a bit frightened) by the similarities between the society/government in this African country and those in modern dystopias such as 1984. The book is an interesting read for people who like to ¿broaden their horizons.¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book immensely interesting, in part because I just finished studying European imperialism and African colonization...etc. It is a very real and engaging protrayal of Africa immediately following independence and explores the struggle of a newly independent nation through the eyes of a foreigner(who isn't completely an outsider)
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul is an engaging and interesting story. Set in a town in Central Africa at the bend of a great river, that is rebuilding since its independence. However the ¿people of the bush¿ live in fear that they will have another ruler like the white men so they disallow all growth to the town by all means necessary. The story of A Bend in the River takes us to Africa more specifically a third-world town in Africa in the rebuilding process. The Indian Salim from the coast owns his own shop accompanied by his friend/slave Metty. He is later joined by Ferdinand of a tribe down the river after the rapids. Ferdinand joins them because his mother wants him to go to a lycee, school, to make a man out of himself. However, the peace in the town was disrupted by tribes surrounding the town that live in fear of anything that has to do with the white men that treated them so unfairly. A war is started and fought and the future of the town is changed. V.S. Naipaul adds structure to the story. Salim is not allowed to live the life he want to live because of his status as a person and white man. V.S. Naipaul does a good job of showing how he feels about the situation. He stated that Salim is the master of one man and the caretaker of another, and he is the least free of the three. The author lets you know all the characteristics of the town and its people before he gives you the action, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It¿s a good thing because the reader can paint a picture rather easily. It is a bad thing because the story takes a while to build up because he¿s dropping in characteristics and behaviors in the story. However, I believe A Bend in the River is a masterpiece. I think all people should read A Bend in the River. It is a good book that deals with a part of the world that you may never know anything about and most likely not visit. It¿s a good book to step out of your comfort zone and see how other people are living away from all the luxuries we have grown accustomed to. If you want to read a good book, pick up A Bend in the River.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book describes the story of an Indian guy trying to idetifying himself, trying to carve a place for himself away from his family in the cetral africa. The country is under revolution, he goes through different kinds of experiences as the political situation changes from bad to good to bad again. Each and every character holds position in the book and makes an interesting read.
piefuchs on LibraryThing 8 days ago
A perfectly written tale. I felt I was reading a fictionalized Ryzard Kapacinski - as in sentence after sentence the human condition was reduced to a few choice words. The basic story is that of a man of Indian origin - whose family knew no other life than living in Africa for several genereations - who moves to a newly independent country to setup a small shop. He proves an asute observer of the newly indepedent, and the hangers on.
thierry on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Set in a newly independent and still unstable Central African country, putatively the former Belgian Congo, the story tells of a East African South Asian trying to establish a general trading store in an isolated provincial city amidst civil war, rising national consciousness, and loyalties challenged and shifting. The narrator, who remains unnamed, comes across as being disconnected from the world he settles in. This sense of detachment from the soil and from the story is quite effective as an illustration of the transient nature of the human experience while we try so hard to establish roots.
strandbooks on LibraryThing 8 days ago
This is the second book I've read by V.S. Naipaul. The story focuses on an unnamed African nation and the tumultous changes it experiences. Despite the descriptions by the second half of the book it was hard for me to visualize the country, but I think that is more my lack of understanding then the writing. It also took me a while to figure out the time period but I think that was on purpose to show how Africa continues as it always was despite other civilizations trying to make their mark.
puabi on LibraryThing 13 days ago
It is hard to get involved with the characters emotionally. I suppose it is well written but ultimately it does not move one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She looks at the list. "Hmm..."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She scans the lists for volleyball, soccer, academic decathlon, and track.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
If you asked me who my favorite living author is, I'd probably say Salman Rushdie or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But if you asked me who the greatest living author is, I'd have to say V.S. Naipaul. A Bend in the River is a novel about identity. Salim, our narrator, is a man of Indian origin, though his family has lived on the coast of Africa for generations. As the nations of Africa begin to gain independence from their European colonizers Salim seeks his own independence by leaving the coast to run a shop in an unnamed town in the African interior. But with independence comes uncertainty. Salim has no roots in India, and he is neither African nor European. Salim is a foreigner without a homeland. Meanwhile a country and a continent struggle to find their own identity. Africa is violently caught between its own rich history and the modern world of its former colonizers. Through this upheaval we follow Salim as he tries to make a life for himself; first finding guidance in others like himself, then a fascination with European expatriates. All the while trying to understand the new Africa, and in the end finding himself completely adrift. Perhaps this is what true independence looks like. A Bend in the River is a masterpiece of discovery and rage, and V.S. Naipaul deserves his place as one of literature's true giants.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very dated and slight to begin with. Reads like a travel book through a desert with a disassociated loser. The comedies better suit his nasty superior style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ExiledNewYorker More than 1 year ago
This thoughtful novel follows an Indian merchant from his home in east Africa to a newly independent, unnamed country in the interior. Naipaul combines excellent story-telling with multiple thematic overlays, including the impact of colonialism, the nature of societies, the fragility of society and the sinister way greed and corruption seep through life. It's an easy, very worthwhile read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book lacks the factor most books have of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. The book seems to drag on forever, and at the turn of each page it had me wishing it was over. A dissapointingly poor novel.