Featured Author: V. S. NAIPAUL
(From the Archives of The New York Times)
REVIEWS OF V. S. NAIPAUL'S EARLIER BOOKS:
Michael Ignatieff Reviews 'Beyond Belief' (June 7, 1998)
In This Feature
Reviews of V. S. Naipaul's Earlier Books Articles About V. S. Naipaul Articles By V. S. Naipaul 'The Mystic Masseur' (1959)
"This novel out of Trinidad uncovers a rich vein of ethnic humor in the world of the Caribbean Hindu. V. S. Naipaul works in terms of good natured satire."
'Miguel Street' (1960)
"[A] beguiling book about growing up in the West Indies. The sketches are written lightly, so that tragedy is understated and comedy is overstated, yet the ring of truth always prevails."
'The Mimic Men' (1967)
"[W]e wait in vain for the novel to happen. These recollected events fail to shatter the even tenor of the memoirist's voice and the over-controlled surface, to burst into fiction. . . ."
'The Loss of El Dorado' (1970)
"It is history as literature, meticulously researched and masterfully written, as in the manner of Thucydides. . . . Mr. Naipaul has not only given us a lesson in history, he has shown us how it is best written. Although he hews to his factual narrative, the craft of the novelist is obvious . . ."
'In a Free State' (1971)
"Mr. Naipaul's style in these stories seems leaner than in the past and much more somber. There is virtually none of the earlier playfulness. He appears to have settled for precision over abundance."
'The Overcrowded Barracoon ' (1973)
"For Naipaul, journalism has not only sustained a novelist but, by keeping him an outsider and an assured observer of the world's predicaments, redefined his role as a novelist."
'Guerillas,' reviewed by Paul Theroux (1975)
"[O]ne of Naipaul's most complex books; it is certainly his most suspenseful, a series of shocks, like a shroud slowly unwound from a bloody corpse. . . a brilliant novel in every way, and it shimmers with artistic certainty."
'A Bend in the River,' reviewed by Irving Howe (1979)
"Naipaul struggles with the ordeals and absurdities of living in new 'third world' countries. . . . He is a tough-spirited writer, undeluded about the sleaziness of much contemporary history and not especially hopeful about its consequences."
'The Return of Eva Peron' (1980)
"Naipaul is a masterly reporter, a witness, and not simply because he brings a novelist's eye and phrasing or a moralist's vision to journalistic material, but because, in curious ways, he is freed from his own demons by reporting."
'Among the Believers,' reviewed by Fouad Ajami (1981)
"[T]he chronicle of a seven-month journey he made in 1979 and 1980 to Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia in search of Islam. It displays all of Naipaul's major themes, his great talent as a writer and his increasing limitation of vision."
'Three Novels' (1983)
"Filled with a Dickensian gallery of antic characters and animated by a mordant black humor that recalls Evelyn Waugh, the first three novels . . . are still the immature fruit of his apprenticeship. . . less dense, less allusive than the later novels. . . [and] there is a humorous appreciation for the vitality of the populous Caribbean world."
'The Middle Passage' (1983)
"I recommend V. S. Naipaul's 'The Middle Passage' as far more than an armchair traveler's joy."
'Finding the Center' (1984)
"He can command such resonance and intensity that he was able to work in what seems to be a scattery and accidental manner and yet come back with a lovely and profound vignette, full of honest changes of judgment about particular people. . . ."
'The Enigma of Arrival,' reviewed by Frank Kermode (1987)
"[A]n intensely personal work and not by any means easy going. . . . In any case, failure in a writer of real power is rarely more than partial, and there are certainly some very fine things in 'The Enigma of Arrival.'"
'A Turn in the South,' reviewed by C. Vann Woodward (1989)
"Mr. Naipaul confesses to 'writing anxieties' about undertaking this book on people unknown to him [Southerners]. . . but his comprehension is astute and penetrating. . . . And the book he has written brings new understanding of the subject to his reader."
'India: A Million Mutinies Now' (1990)
"Naipaul is an erudite and sensitive guide . . . an observer who has made private peace with his ancestral land and is moved both to humility and to celebration by its diversity."
'A Way in the World,' reviewed by Brent Staples (1994)
"[A] distinguished book even by Naipaulian standards, a bewitching piece of work by a mind at the peak of its abilities . . ."
ARTICLES ABOUT V. S. NAIPAUL:
Writer Without Roots (December 26, 1976)
In this profile, Mel Gussow says that Naipaul is "a colonial who writes about the empire -- after its decline and fall."
Meeting V. S. Naipaul (May 13, 1979)
Naipaul talks with Elizabeth Hardwick about chronicling the messy historical transitions of the third world.
Naipaul Reviews His Past From Afar (December 1, 1980)
Michiko Kakutani talks with Naipaul about his acerbic portrayals of what he calls the "half-made societies" of the third world. Equally critical of the colonizers and the colonized, Naipaul has always challenged the conventional wisdom about the developing world.
V.S. Naipaul: 'It Is Out of This Violence I've Always Written' (September 16, 1984)
In this interview, Naipaul talks about finding justice through writing, the "shoddy, dirty, dingy world" of publishing, his essentially apolitical worldview, the relationship of traveling and writing and the role of an editor.
The Enigma of V.S. Naipaul's Search for Himself in Writing (April 25, 1987)
After traveling the world and writing about cultures in upheaval, for "The Enigma of Arrival," Naipaul turned his attention to his adopted home of England to write about what he calls "the writer's journey."
Travel Plus Writing Plus Reflection Equals V.S. Naipaul (January 30, 1991)
Naipaul talks about his three books about India, and how they changed as his perceptions and writing technique evolved.
V. S. Naipaul in Search of Himself: A Conversation (April 24, 1994)
Naipaul talks about "A Way in the World," which he says is not a "work of history or scholarship or fiction," but has elements of all three.
ARTICLES BY V. S. NAIPAUL:
India After Indira Gandhi (November 3, 1984)
This Op-Ed piece was written after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Naipaul says that the Nehru family helped bring a stability to India that could survive despite religious, ethnic, regional and global pressures.
Our Universal Civilization (November 5, 1990)
The cosmopolitan Naipaul had not understood the growing global culture to which he belonged until he visited traditional cultures that were trying to reject the encroaching universal values.
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