“The most splendid writer of English alive today. . . . He looks into the mad eye of history and does not blink.” —The Boston Globe
“It is altogether tonic to have a writer such as V. S. Naipaul in our midst. . . . This volume is as good a place as any to discover why he is a figure of such consequence.” —Daphne Merkin, The New York Times Book Review
“Naipaul brings to the [nonfiction] genre an extraordinary capacity for making art out of lucid thought. . . . [His is] a way of thinking about the world that will compel our attention throughout his working life and well beyond. . . . I can no longer imagine the world without Naipaul’s writing.” —Vivian Gornick, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Perceptive . . . inspired, provocative. . . . Naipaul has succeeded in richly articulating a writer’s engagement with and exploration of the world.” –The San Diego Union-Tribune
“A profound, bracing meditation on the legacy of the colonial world. . . . His writing [offers] the world through eyes possessed of a noble clarity.” –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A welcome and worthy volume. . . . Only Naipaul can take a dim view of so much and so many, yet keep that dimness fantastically illuminated. . . . His prose is often simultaneously a blunt instrument and a surgical one, equally freighted with broad dismissive statements and blood-lettingly dissective insight.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“The quality and credibility of Naipaul’s words become apparent when you find yourself savoring [his] descriptions. . . . Once finished with the collection, the reader will never see the world through the same eyes again.” –Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Witheringly astute. . . . One of our finest living writers. . . . Naipaul’s is a crystalline, no-nonsense style. . . . He gives you the real world.” –The Weekly Standard
“Naipaul is essential reading today for anyone interested in a dissection of the universal tension that exists now between the East and the West. . . . His scholarship is exhaustive, his intuition trustworthy, and his scrutiny is unwavering.” –The Oregonian
“Wonderfully insightful. . . . Few writers are as qualified for the present moment, and few writers are as needed.” –The Orlando Sentinel
“Naipaul forces the traveler to think. . . . [He is] ever curious, ever exact in his observations.” –Austin American-Statesman
“Splendid. . . . Elegant and understated. . . . Naipaul is insatiable in his pursuit of facts and brilliant in his analysis of them.” –The Sunday Star-Ledger
“Naipaul’s essays . . . depict a chaotic world, torn by ethnic, religious and cultural antagonisms, but they also discover the humanity that unites us, and thereby provide the kind of reassurance that perhaps only literature affords.” –San Jose Mercury News
As young man, V. S. Naipaul once tried to commit suicide, but his attempt failed because his gas meter ran out. Now, four decades later, the grandson of a Brahmin indentured laborer in Trinidad remains restless; conscientiously discontented; but also acclaimed as few living world authors are. The judges who awarded him with the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature characterized him as "a literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice." That inimitable voice is ever present in this 500-page collection of his short essays. The Writer and The World includes pieces, almost all of which are out of print, about societies and peoples on every inhabitable continent. Naipaul's views are often controversial (his searing critiques of Islam, for example, continue to draw fire), but his perceptions are shrewd and his writing is elegant.
The election campaign is a recurring theme in this comprehensive collection of essays spanning four decades and scattered about the globe: India, Zaire, Grenada, Anguilla, the Americas. Civilization's sharpest tool for self-determination serves as familiar backdrop against which Naipaul, with a robust sense of wonder, examines more ancient yet persistent methods of human interaction ritual, magic, myth, prophecy, clans and castes. The Nobel laureate also tackles U.S. politics, from Norman Mailer's 1969 campaign for mayor of New York City to the surreal and religion-amped 1984 Republican National Convention where the wheels of the image-making machine are in constant motion. Through tenacious yet unobtrusive reportage, Naipaul deconstructs the mythologized among them Eva Peron, Mobutu Sese Seko, John Steinbeck, Eldridge Cleaver, the American Dream and how progress falters in the face of ritualism and single-mindedness. Revolutionary movements often fall prey to these, and Naipaul analyzes those derailments, particularly in postcolonial society. While some of his travelogues date back to the early 1960s, they nonetheless seem fresh, speaking to Naipaul's astute and prescient powers of observation. He uncovers the universal in his subjects: the confrontation between East and West, the tension between old and new, between creators and consumers, the nature of power. A champion of the individual and one of civilization's ardent faithful, Naipaul offers his own exilic heritage and literary experience as an example of modernity's prowess. He is indeed a master stylist, his prose precise and fresh. Yet always beating below the words is a true and tender heart. Densely researched with an omniscient touch, some of Naipaul's meditations are more accessible than others, which may, at times, hinder demystification of the man many consider to be the greatest living writer in the English language. (Aug. 17) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"To me situations and people are always specific, always of themselves. That is why one travels and writes to find out," Nobel Prize-winning author Naipaul (Half a Life) observes in the postscript to this collection. The 20 essays here represent the finest of his shorter pieces, most of which have been long out of print, such as "Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro," a study of the Ivory Coast, and "Argentina and the Ghost of Eva Peron," an updated account of his earlier "The Ghost of Eva Peron." Introduced by critic/ novelist Pankaj Mishra (The Romantics), the essays span four decades and cover India, Africa, and the New World. The hallmarks of Naipaul's later writings are in evidence here: an inveterate curiosity, the Socratic method of interviewing his hosts, and the ability to write what he sees in a spare, clear prose. Readers who appreciate this will find this latest offering a bracing read. Recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/02.] Ravi Shenoy, Naperville P.L., IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Naipaul applies his exquisitely crafted prose to subjects of colonialism, politics, the disenfranchised, and race in this collection of 20 essays written beginning in 1962. Based on his travels and grounded in history as well as his acute observation of current affairs, the essays take place in the countries of India, Mauritius, Trinidad, Grenada, Guyana, Zaire, Argentina, and the US. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Last year’s Nobel laureate in literature gathers various nonfiction reports and reflections. “Guyana was the first place I travelled to as a writer. . . . I was twenty-eight. I was an artless traveller, and was soon to discover that, whatever the excitements of new landscapes and of being on the move, a journey didn’t necessarily result in a narrative on the page.” So Naipaul (Half a Life, 2001, etc.) observes toward the end of this collection, which takes in a range of occasional pieces, some already available in previous books such as The Overcrowded Barracoon (1972) and The Return of Eva Peron (1980). Those pieces reveal, for those who did not already know it, that few contemporary writers are as well traveled as Naipaul, especially in landscapes others know too little to interpret: Congo, Mauritius, India, Trinidad. They also reveal that Naipaul has virtually no peers as a writer of intensely literary but thoroughly well-reported journalism; only Ryszard Kapuscinski and Joan Didion approach his skills in weaving bookish learning with experience into coherent, often exciting narrative. Among the best pieces here are his dissections of the now-extinct regimes of the Zairian dictator Mobutu (“the great African nihilist”) and the St. Kitts tinhorn Robert Bradshaw (all “drama for the sake of drama”), as well as a descent into a true heart of darkness, a conference of American Christian conservatives. Naipaul, who has long delighted in pricking bubbles of political correctness, will doubtless offend cultural relativists with the bit of Western triumphalism he closes with, but it seems timely in an era of imploding tyrannies: “The idea of the pursuit of happiness . . . is an immense humanidea. It cannot be reduced to fixed system. It cannot generate fanaticism. But it is known to exist; and because of that, other more rigid systems in the end blow away.” A welcome summing-up of a distinguished journalistic career that matches Naipaul’s accomplishments as a novelist.