A Bend in the River
Set in an unnamed African country, V. S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River is narrated by Salim, a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast. He believes The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it. So he has taken the initiative; left the coast; acquired his own shop in a small, growing city in the continent’s remote interior and is selling sundries – little more than this and that, really – to the natives.
This spot, this ‘bend in the river’, is a microcosm of post-colonial Africa at the time of Independence: a scene of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation and poverty. And from this rich landscape emerges one of the author’s most potent works – a truly moving story of historical upheaval and social breakdown.
Naipaul has fashioned a work of intense imaginative force. It is a haunting creation, rich with incident and human bafflement, played out in an immense detail of landscape rendered with a poignant brilliance.
Always a master of fictional landscape, Naipaul here shows, in his variety of human examples and in his search for underlying social causes, a Tolstoyan spirit.
Brilliant and terrifying