©1979 V.S. Naipaul; (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A brilliant novel." (The New York Times)
"Confirms Naipaul's position as one of the best writers now at work." (Newsweek)
Book: I enjoyed the book since it is three interesting points. It is a story about East Africa after independence and from a Muslim of Indio-Pakistan descent. These factors provide an interesting point of view in time, place, and circumstances. It is not fast pace story but moves at an acceptable speed.
Performance: The reader is professional and good actor. He enhances the text.
I enjoyed reading this book, but I'm not sure if I would read it again and it isn't placed among my favorites. It is very well written and paints a picture of Africa that puts the reader there, but it's not necessarily a gripping tale.
What I liked best about the book were the details of life that the characters went through, they give the story more life and texture.
None of the individual scenes stood out that much to me, the dramatic events seemed to happen abruptly and without fanfare.
I feel that some things in the book were a bit of a let down. For instance, Salim's romance with Yvette was promising but then abruptly ended with violence that was unjustified and unexplained to the reader. Salim was done with her, but why did he beat her? It doesn't make sense.
Simon Vance was, once again, outstanding. I would never think twice about listening to one of his narrations.
This book is a "classic". Normally for me that's a must read, but a combination of a selfish & otherwise uninteresting character along side "adequate" narration made this book a drag to listen to.
I'm not sure who would enjoy this one.
Not a chance. I stuck with it only because it was so highly rated elsewhere but I think this is one that has been oversold. It doesn't live up to it's hype.
I finished it as I wanted to do it justice. I've read it. I won't be reading that one again & I won't recommend it to anyone else.
I love Simon Vance's narration - he's my favourite reader, but I did not enjoy his performance of this story. If he couldn't save this no-one can, but in the future I'll definitely be listening to other books he's narrated.
This book appeared on a top 100 books of all time. Not in my top 100 that's for sure. Give it a miss, try something else.
I was disappointed in this novel. After listening to it for over 10 hrs. the book just ended with no conclusion. Additionally, while the reader was good the book was rather boring.
I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped I would. I found it boring and had trouble staying with it. Maybe I missed the point, but it just didn't seem to have one. I'm not sure I learned anything about Africa, which was the main reason I selected it. The narrator did a good job with it, however.
"A flowing history from the heart of Africa"
If you're interested in central and east Africa in general, and the DRC in particular, you've doubtless read 'Heart of Darkness', 'King Leopold's Ghost' and 'In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz'. Don't miss this classic novel, which provides an engrossing first-person account of the life of an Indian shopkeeper in the remote east of what was then called Zaire. The view through the eyes of a single shopkeeper makes a grand accompaniment to those other, broader texts. The story begins before the ascendancy of President Mobutu Sese-Seko, describes the initial excitement that his authoritative reign created - often overlooked by other commentators - then traces the collapse of the regime and the country into corrupt anarchy. The characters that appear along the way symbolise many of the major attitudes towards this abortive African renaissance - the naive academic credulously serving the Big Man, disappointed ex-pats sliding into bored debauchery, arrogant young students bitter as they realise the lies they have been told, the Africa-loving priest brought to a grisly end - and, of course, the foreign traders trying to live in two worlds to profit from it all, yet with the dreadful risk of losing everything hanging over them, a threat that adds real tension to the story.
"The horror ?"
Heart of Darkness 100 years later? Also set in the Congo, the story recounts the experience of an young Indian man who tries to make a living as a tradesman during the 1960'es and 70'es on the banks of the Congo. The author provides insight and perspective on the post-colonial experience, but the reader is still left outside the phenomena. The darkness remains, the wonder at the seemingly irrational behaviours, the violence, the randomness etc. But maybe that is exactly the message?
"A Bend in the River"
"In service to Sir Vidia"
The more we know about this man, the less we like him - it's the paradox of the literary celebrity age. If Sir Vidia wasn't such a marvellous writer, if he hadn't conjured a modern philosophe, if he didn't visit upon his British audience their post-colonial angst in the midst of our suburban ennui - then we wouldn't be at all interested in his Tuesday afternoon trysts. A great literary bequest laid low by a failure of heart - the heart of darkness seems to be within yourself Sir Vidia.
A good novel, though, well drawn characters standing on different corners of different streets following two rivers - each with a distinct bend.
Naipaul's own opening incantation 'The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.' now seems too big a challenge even for a man of Naipaul's exemplitude - what do you amount to old man?
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