Wednesday, January 2, 2008

V.S. Naipaul and Me

Can I sustain a blog without my camera as a prop? With the help of V.S.Naipaul- I hope so.
My goal for the year- to cover all of V.S. Naipaul's work. Read it all through, in chronological order and review them here- one by one. Deep breath.

Why? Because I don't think that his work is read enough in his homeland.

And I think that we need to examine the literature that came from this place so that we can anchor ourselves in our own history.

Whether we like it or not, Trinidad is the raw material for his genius. The coal of his engine.

I straddle the generations between the pre- and post colonial eras and I would like to believe that this position has provided the dispassion of distance. It is really not personal to us. So perhaps we are the ones to bring him home again. Past the bitterness that is the small island legacy. His prose is beyond gorgeous- written with a delicacy that belies his exterior-but I am really trying to look beyond that; I am trying to track the mucky, messy birth of a writer that made the world sit up and listen.

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2001 was awarded to V. S. Naipaul "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories"

It is these suppressed histories that interest me. And the impact that this has had on our day to day life in Trinidad.

And so I start, a bit star-struck- but we shall see as I go how I feel.

The Mystic Masseur. – London: Deutsch, 1957.
Miguel Street. – London: Deutsch, 1959.
A House for Mr. Biswas. – London: Deutsch, 1961.
The Middle Passage : Impressions of Five Societies – British, French and Dutch in the West Indies and South America. – London: Deutsch, 1962.
Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion. – London: Deutsch, 1963.
A Flag on the Island. – London: Deutsch, 1967.
The Loss of El Dorado : a History. – London: Deutsch, 1969.
In a Free State. – London: Deutsch, 1971.
The Overcrowded Barracoon and Other Articles. – London: Deutsch, 1972.
Guerrillas. – London: Deutsch, 1975.
India : a Wounded Civilization. – London: Deutsch, 1977.
A Bend in the River. – London: Deutsch, 1979.
A Congo Diary. – Los Angeles, CA: Sylvester & Orphanos, 1980.
Among the Believers : an Islamic Journey. – London: Deutsch, 1981.
The Enigma of Arrival. – London: Viking, 1987.
India : a Million Mutinies Now. – London: Heinemann, 1990.
A Way in the World. – London: Heinemann, 1994.
Beyond Belief : Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples. – London: Little, Brown, 1998.
Reading and Writing : a Personal Account. – New York: New York Review of Books, 2000.
Half a Life. – London: Picador, 2001.
The Writer and the World : Essays. Introduced and edited by Pankaj Mishra. London : Picador, 2002 ; New York : Knopf, 2002
Literary Occasions : Essays. Introduced and edited by Pankaj Mishra. – London : Picador, 2003 ; New York : Knopf, 2003
Magic Seeds : [novel]. – London : Picador, 2003 ; New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
Vintage Naipaul. – New York : Vintage Books, 2004

These are the ones listed on the Nobel Prize page for V.S. Naipaul. I don't see "The Return of Eva Peron".
Are there more?

The following is taken from his bio-bibliography.

Naipaul's works consist mainly of novels and short stories, but also include some that are documentary. He is to a very high degree a cosmopolitan writer, a fact that he himself considers to stem from his lack of roots: he is unhappy about the cultural and spiritual poverty of Trinidad, he feels alienated from India, and in England he is incapable of relating to and identifying with the traditional values of what was once a colonial power.

The events in his earliest books take place in the West Indies. A few years after the publication of his first work, The Mystic Masseur (1957), came what is considered by many to be one of his most outstanding novels, A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), in which the protagonist is modeled on the author's father.

After the enormous success of A House for Mr. Biswas, Naipaul extended the geographical and social perspective of his writing to describe with increasing pessimism the deleterious impact of colonialism and emerging nationalism on the third world, in for instance Guerrillas (1975) and A Bend in the River (1979), the latter a portrayal of Africa that has been compared to Conrad's Heart of Darkness.


Jonathan said...

His first--and best--India book, An Area of Darkness is missing. So is Finding the Centre and A Turn in the South. And I've never heard of Congo Diary before.

This is a great idea, Sharon, the blog and the full reading of Naipaul. Good luck with both!

Aditya Adhikari said...

The Suffrage of Elvira, The Mimic Men

Andre Bagoo said...

'Argentina and the Ghost of Eva Peron' can be found in The Writer and the World which also contains the absolutely BRILLANT 'Michael X and the Black Power Killings in Trinidad'. Good luck with this idea- it should be fun!

My Chutney Garden said...

Thanks everyone for the missing ones.
I think it's probably going to take me more than a year but i am moving on book by book.

Andre Bagoo said...

What's the status of this?