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A Bend in the River

A Bend in the RiverA Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Salim leaves his family's crumbling life on the east coast of Africa to run a shop at the interior town on the bend of the river. The town is just starting over again after the devastation of the war of independence. The threats of violence and chaos remain always in the background.

Over the years Salim interacts with an old family slave, a village magician, a young man trying to be part of the New Africa, an old friend trying to exploit the situation he finds himself in, a couple trying to make it in their little patch of the world, a priest lost in his dreams, a European intellectual lost in his thoughts, a housewife lost in her needs.

Naipaul's novels engage you intellectually. They are conceptual, for they grapple with ideas. Colonialism, post-colonialism, Africa, the modern global world, human nature -- all of these are themes that appear in the plots, characters, and conversations of this novel.

Naipaul is, of course, a master of English prose. I enjoy his sentences.

I only gave this novel three stars because I felt that his novel Guerillas covered many of the same themes (though not Africa) and did it better.

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