2008
12.30

Books are what they are; readers that read nothing, who allow themselves to read books about nothing, have no place reading.

And so, with a similarly ridiculous construct, this book begins its tale of a nameless post-colonial country in eastern Africa. The hero is a Muslim-Indian from a family that lived for generations on the coast, and decides to move in land, to the city by the bend in the river. The book has vivid descriptions of life in such settings. Here is a quote:

Sun and rain and bush had made the site look old, like the site of a dead civilization. The ruins, spreading over so many acres, seemed to speak of a final catastrophe. But the civilization wasn’t dead. It was the civilization I existed in and in fact was still working towards. And that could make for an odd feeling: to be among the ruins was to have your time-sense unsettled. You felt like a ghost, not from the past, but from the future. You felt that your life and ambition had already been lived out for you and you were looking at the relics of that life. You were in a place where the future had come and gone.
— A bend in the river, V. S. Naipaul

The book is well written and worth reading. A bit short of a masterpiece despite the author quiet but determined hatred of his hero, his friends, the reader, Africa, women, men, people, and everything else (just to be on the safe side).

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