WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR
‘A Tolstoyan spirit . . . The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist’ John Updike, New Yorker
Born of Indian heritage, raised in the British-dependent Caribbean island of Isabella, and educated in England, forty-year-old Ralph Singh has spent a lifetime struggling against the torment of cultural displacement. Now in exile from his native country, he has taken up residence at a quaint hotel in a London suburb, where he is writing his memoirs in an attempt to impose order on a chaotic existence. His memories lead him to recognize the cultural paradoxes and tainted fantasies of his colonial childhood and later life: his attempts to fit in at school, his short-lived marriage to an ostentatious white woman. But it is the return to Isabella and his subsequent immersion in the roiling political atmosphere of a newly self-governing nation – every kind of racial fantasy taking wing – that ultimately provide Singh with the necessary insight to discover the crux of his disillusionment.
‘Ambitious and successful . . . Extremely perceptive’ The Times
‘The sweep of Naipaul’s imagination, the fictional frame that expresses it, are in my view without equal today’ Elizabeth Hardwick, New York Times Book Review