In "Half a Life" we are introduced to the compelling figure of Willie Chandran. Springing from the unhappy union of a low-caste mother and a father constantly at odds with life, Willie is naively eager to find something that will place him both in and apart from the world. Drawn to England, and to the immigrant and bohemian communities of post-war ...
In "Half a Life" we are introduced to the compelling figure of Willie Chandran. Springing from the unhappy union of a low-caste mother and a father constantly at odds with life, Willie is naively eager to find something that will place him both in and apart from the world. Drawn to England, and to the immigrant and bohemian communities of post-war London, it is only in his first experience of love that he finally senses the possibility of fulfilment. In its humorous and sensitive vision of the half-lives quietly lived out at the centre of our world, V.S. Naipaul's graceful novel brings its own unique illumination to essential aspects of our shared history. "The best novel I have read this year ...the prose is crystalline and seductively so you hardly realize that you are consuming a work of genius until you are plunged deep into a dramatic story which stretches across three continents" - Antonia Fraser, "Irish Times". "A small masterpiece and a potent distillation of the author's work to date. Mr Naipaul endows his story with the heightened power of fable" - Michiko Kakatuni, "New York Times". "A brilliant, withering story of the bitter consequences of empire ...Writing with a degree of wit and subtlety beyond the grasp of most writers, Naipaul has built a bleak world of discomfort and yearning from which, paradoxically, the reader will not want to escape" - Jeremy Poolman, "Daily Mail". "Parts are as sly and funny as anything Naipaul has written. Nobody who enjoys seeing English beautifully controlled should miss this novel" - John Carey, "Sunday Times".
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New in new dust jacket. GIFT-ABLE as NEW, UNREAD, GLOSSY, pages crisp and clean, not a mark, NEW w/DJ NEW AS SHOWN THIS COPY; GIFT-ABLE AS LIKE NEW, UNREAD. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 224 p. Audience: General/trade.
New in fine dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New Second printing before publication. D/j has shelfwear. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 224 p. Audience: General/trade. Willie Chandran's flight from the travails of his mixed birth takes him from India to London, where in the shabby haunts of immigrants and literary bohemians he affects a new identity. When he returns with his lover to her home in Africa during the last doomed days of colonialism, he lives yet another life not his own.
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NAIPUL IS AN EXPERIENCED WRITER OF MANY BOOKS. tHIS ONE IS PROBABLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL . iT IS STORY OF A MAN FROM CHILDHOOD TO MATURITY BORN IN INDIA HE GOES TO ENGLAND LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO FOCUS HIS LIFE. . HE FALLS IN LOVE WITH A YOUNG WOMAN IN ENGLAND, WHO IS DEPORTED AS AN UNREGISTERED ALIEN.HE GOES WITH HER TO HER NATIVE COUNTRY IN AFRICA. AFTER 20 YEARS OF LIFE WITH HER IN AFRICA HE DECIDES HE HAS BEEN LIVING HER LIFE, NOT HIS AND HE LEAVES HER. I DID NOT FIND THE CHARACTERS APPEALING. HE WRITES VERY WELL.
Oct 17, 2009
Read for my book club and panned by all members. We all felt it failed to keep the reader engaged, the writing seemed "half done", and the protagonist was very unlikeable. We also found it unsettling the story was somewhat autobiographical. Not only was the protagonist a jerk but apparently the author may be one as well. It may be Pollyanna of us to think this way, but it is what it is. I abandoned it 20 pages from the end.
For a better depiction of a coming of age Indian story I would recommend instead: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-09-17 V.S. Naipaul has often been accused of being ungenerous, especially in his scathing accounts of Third World countries. His slim new novel tacitly poses the question of the worth of generosity without clarity and purpose. Willie Chandran, the central figure here, is born in India in the 1930s, the son of a bitter mixed caste marriage between a Brahmin and a "backwards" person, or untouchable. Willie learns as a child to despise his father's ineffectuality and his mother's coarseness. His father's vague motive in marrying his mother had been to break out of the provincial mold in which he was raised and to "live out a life of sacrifice," but too late he discovered that he retained all the prejudices of his caste and despised his wife. Going to London on a scholarship, Willie mixes in immigrant and bohemian circles, and even publishes a book. Naipaul's detached rendering of Willie's travails shows what happens to a young man who pieces his life together around the great, central dread of not being taken seriously the image of his father as an "idler" is always in his mind. Willie meets Ana, a woman of mixed African descent, when she writes him a fan letter about his novel. They become lovers. Willie goes back with Ana to her large outback estate in the "half and half" world of a Portuguese colony like Mozambique, where he remains for 18 years. Naipaul's plain narrative is studded with beautifully realized scenes, such as the London party at which a newspaper editor reads his own, self-written obituary, or the night Willie goes to an African brothel with Alvaro, an estate overseer. Although this novel does not aspire to the breadth of Naipaul's earlier fiction, it reminds us that his vision is on par with Conrad's or Graham Greene's. 40,000 first printing; 5-city author tour. (Oct. 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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