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"His ignorance seemed to widen with everything he read. He turned in the end to a cheap history of the world published during the war. This he could hardly understand. It was as with the leaflets about London in the Underground stations: the book assumed that the reader already knew about famous events. Willie thought he was swimming in ignorance, had lived without a knowledge of time."
—from HALF A LIFE (2001)

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

"His ignorance seemed to widen with everything he read. He turned in the end to a cheap history of the world published during the war. This he could hardly unde...rstand. It was as with the leaflets about London in the Underground stations: the book assumed that the reader already knew about famous events. Willie thought he was swimming in ignorance, had lived without a knowledge of time."
—from HALF A LIFE (2001) by Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul

In a narrative that moves with dreamlike swiftness from India to England to Africa, Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has produced his finest novel to date, a bleakly resonant study of the fraudulent bargains that make up an identity. The son of a Brahmin ascetic and his lower-caste wife, Willie Chandran grows up sensing the hollowness at the core of his father’s self-denial and vowing to live more authentically. That search takes him to the immigrant and literary bohemias of 1950s London, to a facile and unsatisfying career as a writer, and at last to a decaying Portugese colony in East Africa, where he finds a happiness he will then be compelled to betray. Brilliantly orchestrated, at once elegiac and devastating in its portraits of colonial grandeur and pretension, Half a Life represents the pinnacle of Naipaul’s career. READ an excerpt here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/half-a-life-by-v-s-na…/

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"A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say 'Slum!' because he could see no more. But we, who lived there, saw our street as a world, where everybody was quite different from everybody else."
—from “The Pyrotechnicist" (1959)

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Everyman's Library

"A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say 'Slum!' because he could see no more. But we, who lived there, saw our street as a world, where every...body was quite different from everybody else."
—from “The Pyrotechnicist" (1959) by V. S. Naipaul

For the first time: the Nobel Prize winner’s stunning short fiction collected in one volume, with an introduction by the author. Over the course of his distinguished career, V. S. Naipaul has written a remarkable array of short fiction that moves from Trinidad to London to Africa. Here are the stories from his Somerset Maugham Award–winning Miguel Street, in which he takes us into a derelict corner of Trinidad’s capital to meet, among others, Man-Man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion. The tales in A Flag on the Island, meanwhile, roam from a Chinese bakery in Trinidad to a rooming house in London. And in the celebrated title story from the Booker Prize– winning In a Free State, an English couple traveling in an unnamed African country discover, under a veneer of civilization, a landscape of squalor and ethnic bloodletting. No writer has rendered our postcolonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. READ an excerpt from the introduction here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/collected-short-ficti…/

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"'Look, boys, it ever strike you that the world not real at all? It ever strike you that we have the only mind in the world and you just thinking up everything else? Like me here, having the only mind int he world, and thinking up you people here, thinking up the war and all the houses and the ships and them in the harbour. That ever cross your mind?'"
-- from MIGUEL STREET

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

"'Look, boys, it ever strike you that the world not real at all? It ever strike you that we have the only mind in the world and you just thinking up everything ...else? Like me here, having the only mind int he world, and thinking up you people here, thinking up the war and all the houses and the ships and them in the harbour. That ever cross your mind?'"
-- from MIGUEL STREET by V. S. Naipaul

“A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say ‘Slum!’ because he could see no more.” But to its residents this derelict corner of Trinidad’s capital is a complete world, where everybody is quite different from everybody else. There’s Popo the carpenter, who neglects his livelihood to build “the thing without a name.” There’s Man-man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion, and the dreaded Big Foot, the bully with glass tear ducts. There’s the lovely Mrs. Hereira, in thrall to her monstrous husband. In this tender, funny early novel, V. S. Naipaul renders their lives (and the legends their neighbors construct around them) with Dickensian verve and Chekhovian compassion.

Set during World War II and narrated by an unnamed–but precociously observant–neighborhood boy, Miguel Street is a work of mercurial mood shifts, by turns sweetly melancholy and anarchically funny. It overflows with life on every page. READ an excerpt: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/miguel-street-by-vs-n…/

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“Change had come over him without his knowing. There had been no precise point at which the city had lost its romance and promise, no point at which he had begun to consider himself old, his career closed, and his visions of the future became only visions of Anand's future. Each realization had been delayed and had come, not as a surprise, but as a statement of a condition long accepted.”
―from A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS (1961)

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

“Change had come over him without his knowing. There had been no precise point at which the city had lost its romance and promise, no point at which he had begu...n to consider himself old, his career closed, and his visions of the future became only visions of Anand's future. Each realization had been delayed and had come, not as a surprise, but as a statement of a condition long accepted.”
―from A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS (1961) by V. S. Naipaul

The early masterpiece of V. S. Naipaul’s brilliant career, A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS is an unforgettable story inspired by Naipaul’s father that has been hailed as one of the twentieth century’s finest novels. In his forty-six short years, Mr. Mohun Biswas has been fighting against destiny to achieve some semblance of independence, only to face a lifetime of calamity. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning death of his father, for which he is inadvertently responsible, Mr. Biswas yearns for a place he can call home. But when he marries into the domineering Tulsi family on whom he indignantly becomes dependent, Mr. Biswas embarks on an arduous–and endless–struggle to weaken their hold over him and purchase a house of his own. A heartrending, dark comedy of manners, A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS masterfully evokes a man’s quest for autonomy against an emblematic post-colonial canvas. READ an excerpt here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/a-house-for-mr-biswas…/

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"My father was a self-taught man, picking his way through a cultural confusion of which he was perhaps hardly aware and which I have only recently begun to understand; and he wished himself to be a writer. He read less for pleasure than for clues, hints, and encouragement; and he introduced me to those writers he had come upon in his own search. Conrad was one of the earliest of these: Conrad the stylist, but more than that, Conrad the late starter, holding out hope to those who didn’t seem to be starting at all."
--from "Conrad's Darkness and Mine" (1974)

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

"My father was a self-taught man, picking his way through a cultural confusion of which he was perhaps hardly aware and which I have only recently begun to unde...rstand; and he wished himself to be a writer. He read less for pleasure than for clues, hints, and encouragement; and he introduced me to those writers he had come upon in his own search. Conrad was one of the earliest of these: Conrad the stylist, but more than that, Conrad the late starter, holding out hope to those who didn’t seem to be starting at all."
--from "Conrad's Darkness and Mine" (1974) by V. S. Naipaul included in LITERARY OCCASIONS: Essays

Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul brings his signature gifts of observation, his ferocious impatience with received truths, and his masterfully condensed prose to these eleven essays on reading, writing, and identity—which have been brought together for the first time. Here the subject is Naipaul’s literary evolution: the books that delighted him as a child; the books he wrote as a young man; the omnipresent predicament of trying to master an essentially metropolitan, imperial art form as an Asian colonial from a New World plantation island. He assesses Joseph Conrad, the writer most frequently cited as his forebear, and, in his celebrated Nobel Lecture, “Two Worlds,” traces the full arc of his own career. Literary Occasions is an indispensable addition to the Naipaul oeuvre, penetrating, elegant, and affecting.

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Please join us in wishing Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul a happy 85th birthday today!

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad & Tobago on this day in 1932.

“The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell our...selves.”
―from IN A FREE STATE

No writer has rendered our boundariless, post-colonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives. In the beginning it is just a car trip through Africa.

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“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”
- from A BEND IN THE RIVER

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”
- from A BEND IN THE RIVER by V. S. Naipaul

In the ..."brilliant novel" (The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man—an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.

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“Out of its squalor and human decay, its eruptions of butchery, India produced so many people of grace and beauty, ruled by elaborate courtesy. Producing too much life, it denied the value of life; yet it permitted a unique human development to so many. Nowhere were people so heightened, rounded and individualistic; nowhere did they offer themselves so fully and with such assurance. To know Indians was to take a delight in people as people; every encounter was an adventure. I did not want India to sink [out of my memory]; the mere thought was painful.”
―from AN AREA OF DARKNESS by V.S. Naipaul

163 Likes, 2 Comments - Vintage & Anchor Books (@vintageanchorbooks) on Instagram: ““Out of its squalor and human decay, its eruptions of butchery, India produced so many people of…”
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“Change had come over him without his knowing. There had been no precise point at which the city had lost its romance and promise, no point at which he had begun to consider himself old, his career closed, and his visions of the future became only visions of Anand's future. Each realization had been delayed and had come, not as a surprise, but as a statement of a condition long accepted.”
―from A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS

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Everyman's Library

“Change had come over him without his knowing. There had been no precise point at which the city had lost its romance and promise, no point at which he had begu...n to consider himself old, his career closed, and his visions of the future became only visions of Anand's future. Each realization had been delayed and had come, not as a surprise, but as a statement of a condition long accepted.”
―from A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS by V. S. Naipaul

The book that turned the gentle satirist of the Caribbean into a major literary figure, this is the story of a man who, without a single asset, enters a life devoid of opportunity; his tumble-down house becomes a potent symbol of the search for identity in a postcolonial world. His most widely read novel. READ an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/a-house-for-mr-biswas-…/

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"The West, or the universal civilization it leads, is emotionally rejected. It undermines, it threatens. But at the same time it is needed for its machines, goods, medicines, warplanes, the remittances from the emigrants, the hospitals that might have a cure for calcium deficiency, the universities that will provide master's degrees in mass media. All the rejection of the West is contained within the assumption that there will always exist out there a living, creative civilization, oddly neutral, open to all to appeal to. Rejection, therefore, is not absolute rejection. It is also, for the community as a whole, a way of ceasing to strive intellectually. It is to be parasitic: parasitism is one of the unacknowledged fruits of fundamentalism."
--from AMONG THE BELIEVERS: An Islamic Journey (1981)

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

"The West, or the universal civilization it leads, is emotionally rejected. It undermines, it threatens. But at the same time it is needed for its machines, goo...ds, medicines, warplanes, the remittances from the emigrants, the hospitals that might have a cure for calcium deficiency, the universities that will provide master's degrees in mass media. All the rejection of the West is contained within the assumption that there will always exist out there a living, creative civilization, oddly neutral, open to all to appeal to. Rejection, therefore, is not absolute rejection. It is also, for the community as a whole, a way of ceasing to strive intellectually. It is to be parasitic: parasitism is one of the unacknowledged fruits of fundamentalism."
--from AMONG THE BELIEVERS: An Islamic Journey (1981) by V. S. Naipaul

Naipaul’s controversial account of his travels through the Islamic world was hailed by The New Republic as "the most notable work on contemporary Islam to have appeared in a very long time."

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"At the university I had over four years read nearly all Shakespeare and Marlowe, some of the plays many times. This had been an education in itself, training me out of my old idea that poetry dealt in declamation and obvious beauty: some of the plainest lines in Shakespeare and Marlowe had been full of power."
- V. S. Naipaul, A WRITER'S PEOPLE

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Vintage Books & Anchor Books

"At the university I had over four years read nearly all Shakespeare and Marlowe, some of the plays many times. This had been an education in itself, training m...e out of my old idea that poetry dealt in declamation and obvious beauty: some of the plainest lines in Shakespeare and Marlowe had been full of power."
- V. S. Naipaul, A WRITER'S PEOPLE

V. S. Naipaul has always faced the challenges of "fitting one civilization to another." In A Writer’s People, he takes us into this process of creative and intellectual assimilation, which has shaped both his writing and his life.

Naipaul discusses the writers to whom he was exposed early on—Derek Walcott, Gustave Flaubert, and his father, among them—and his first encounters with literary culture. He illuminates the ways in which the writings of Gandhi, Nehru, and other Indian writers both reveal and conceal the authors themselves and their nation. And he brings the same scrutiny to bear on his own life: his early years in Trinidad; the empty spaces in his family history; his ever-evolving reactions to the more complicated India he would encounter for the first time at age thirty.

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/a-writers-people-by-v-…/#

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"It is wrong to have an ideal view of the world. That's where the mischief starts. That's where everything starts unraveling."
-- from MAGIC SEEDS by V. S. Naipaul

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"I think that there are writers who I don’t necessarily agree with in terms of their politics, but whose writings are sort of a baseline for how to think about certain things — V. S. Naipaul, for example. His “A Bend in the River,” which starts with the line, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.” And I always think about that line, and I think about his novels when I’m thinking about the hardness of the world sometimes, particularly in foreign policy, and I resist and fight against sometimes that very cynical, more realistic view of the world. And yet, there are times where it feels as if that may be true."
--President Barack Obama

Michiko Kakutani, our chief book critic, met with Mr. Obama to discuss the books and writers that have influenced his life and presidency.
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“The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.”
--from IN A FREE STATE by V. S. Naipaul

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"Non-fiction can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies."
-- from A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul

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