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Guerillas

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  696 ratings  ·  53 reviews
An expatriate English couple and a West Indian would-be revolutionary yield to infidelity, sexual abuse, murder, and irrevocable mental and moral decay on a socially fragile, post-colonial Caribbean island.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Published March 8th 2012 by Vintage Canada (first published January 1st 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,258)
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Shane
A revolution in a small Caribbean island exposes deviant sexuality, and gender and racial hatred among its principal characters. They truly are lost souls without hope of redemption.

Jimmy Ahmed is the unlikely bi-sexual, mixed-breed revolutionary, who hates England for having made him into a plaything and who hides out in a foreign-sponsored farm on his native island waiting for the moment to spring his revolution. My problem with Jimmy is that he does not appear to have charisma that will inspi
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Casey (Myshkin) Buell
I'm not sure how to put my feelings about this book into words, but I'll try. This is not a fun novel. This is not a nice novel. This is a vicerally powerful and profoundly disturbing novel. The tension begins to build with the very first word, and doesn't let up until the very last. Naipaul is a master of creating atmosphere. You physically feel the tension in the interplay between characters, and the hysteria bubbling away just below the surface makes your heart beat faster. This is not a nove ...more
Cbj
Guerillas is a vicious self-help novel for wounded colonized people and their guilty colonizers. No, but thats not really true. Naipaul is not interested in the emancipation of humanity and is only interested in serving literature. He said so himself.

Guerillas is a terrifying novel about race relations written with the sole intention of exposing liberals for what Naipaul perceives to be their banality. But no, thats only partially true.

Guerillas is a brutally honest novel about the inevitable
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Scott
The last Naipaul I read, A House for Mr. Biswas, disappointed me, but this one has great force. It is a complex rumination on post-colonial life -- identity, race, power, sex, and politics.

Set in an unnamed Caribbean island based on Naipaul's own Trinidad, the island is independent and self-governing, but still dominated by the British colonial elite. The main characters are white liberals who find their politics and sentimentality overcome by events, particularly in their complex relationships
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Andrewh
This is the first Naipaul book I have read and it was a bracing experience - not exactly enjoyable but compelling and thought-provoking (a cinematic analogy would be a Michael Haneke film perhaps, in whcih the reader is also complicit in the misdeeds being described). The book's general theme is the post-colonial era of revolutionary ferment in the Caribbean in the 70s, when political movements still harboured hopes of a radical transformation of society along leftist lines. The tone is overwhel ...more
Michael Vagnetti
One must look off searchingly in the distance with this fiction, through your own class, your own country, with eyes not exactly squinting, but with a presage of future pain from the inevitable fatigue. It is only words, it is not exactly words. To read is to create (the illusion?) of a physical memory in someone who has never been to the Caribbean island of Guerillas.

If meaning in fiction is an attempt to create somatic experiences for the reader, then technique is a way of creating empathy for
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Mj!
Death, sex, and revolution make up this book, though mostly it follows the stories of elitist white people selfishly mourning their miserably alienated lives. If you like reading the words "decay" and "desolation" over and over, enjoy!
Padraic
Not a big fan of Naipaul's fiction - his non-fiction strikes me as his real strength. On the other hand I tried putting this down three or four times without success - something always pulled me back. Atmosphere? Perhaps. Plot? Hardly (there is one, but that's all one can say about it). Applicability? Perhaps (I write this post-Ferguson). Maybe it's as simple as recognizing that he is deeply engaged with race, and all the raw emotions that simmer in that soup. There is a resolution - sort of - a ...more
Kobe Bryant
pretty good book, but not great. beautifully written but kind of boring. he really likes writing about vapid white women, because he's a big misogynist and a 'player'
Noel
This book is a twisted tale of sex - the post british colony setting, the political struggle, these are just some of the decoys Naipual employs to shield the reader from the truth of what type of story they are really reading. When you uncoil what you have actually read, what is left lying around you is a perverted tale. There are power struggles in the post British colony setting, political ones, but these function in the book as nothing more than a vehicle to deliever the true story- the one o ...more
Patrick McCoy
Guerrillas by V. S. Naipaul is a novel about an unnamed Caribbean country that undergoes a revolution. It seems like it would be Naipaul's home, Trinidad, but I don't know enough about the country to know for certain, but the Caribbean is full of little countries with large poor populations and natural resources controlled by the ruling elite or foreign investors, so there are several countries that could be models. Perhaps, the lack of detail on this point isa strength of the book. The politica ...more
David Freeland
I just finished this today. In terms of its ability to build tension, fill readers with a sense of dread - the sense that something horrible is about to happen - Guerillas may be one of the finest novels I've read. Naipaul's writing is beautifully descriptive: from the opening chapter we are solidly within this world, so brilliantly is it depicted. Where I think Naipaul goes wrong is in the characterizations - much of which I think he gets right. However, if we are fully to believe the penultima ...more
António
I liked the approach of this book. It's a style very introspective, which – combined with an utmost care to detail – allows the mood to be captured expertly. The characters' states of mind, their individual perceptions, as well as the study of their personalities are the catalysts of the story; a story that insinuates itself without falling into the trap of predictability.
Molly
Weird book about an unnamed Caribbean island on the cusp of a revolution. I had big expectations for this one (Naipul won the Nobel prize for literature and all). Oddly, I enjoyed reading the book through to the end. When I was finished, though, I just wasn’t satisfied. The main female character, Jane, was a flat character–it was impossible to understand her personality or motivations. She really just drifted through the story. Jane seemed thrown in the book because the author wanted to include ...more
Sarah Nicole
This book is terrible. I really believe this author does not understand women at all, because the way he writes the female character Jane is awful, both in quality of writing and in terms of believability. She is completely unrealistic and I think he uses the word "schoolgirl" twice in every paragraph that describes her (bad writing!). This book is supposed to be based on Wuthering Heights, but I shudder to even think about comparing the two. Wuthering Heights is a brilliant, amazing, stimulatin ...more
Smoothw
A very sour book that left an ill taste in my mouth, but it does have some qualities that make it worth reading. The novel is about three characters who find themselves on a Caribbean Island in the midst of social and political collapse. I enjoyed the novel initially because of the interesting description on the Island surroundings, and the skillful evocation of a sense of dread. But ultimately the characters seemed more like metaphorical types than previous Naipaul novels I have read, and the a ...more
Jennifer
Nauseatingly misogynist, full of paper characters who illustrate various ideological points and extremely dull...this was awful, not in the same world as the author's non fiction .
Wizzard
This was a disturbing book, which is a powerful statement. It describes a third world scene wrought by violence and hopelessness. I am stuck deciding whether the characters are stock figures: Jimmy Ahmed the nihlistic and opportunistic ghetto warrior turned revolutionary, Roche, the do-gooder liberal who has common traits with the slave master, Jane, the liberal floating for a cause. It probably was different to read the book in the 1970's as opposed to now. I like the character of the Black pol ...more
Robert Wechsler
Not one of his best. Its politics are too barely presented. Didn't fully work, but still good writing that kept me in till the end.
Nicolas Garcia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
za
guerillas is an incredible work. it is dark, sharp, graphic, emotionally honest. naipaul captures the violent mind forged out of colonialism and his characters are people who can only relate to one another through the framework of power struggle, racism, self-hatred. towards the end of the book, there is a really graphic rape scene that i had so much trouble getting through. i believe it was made that much harder to take precisely because of all the underlying political context. this is a brilli ...more
Veterini
Livre franchement sinistre, qui explore le coté sombre de l'être ’humain. Cela donne des portraits intéressants, notamment un ancien militant anti-apartheid qui se retrouve par la force des choses au service d’une entreprise exploitant les richesses d’une petite île. Mais on est souvent à la limite de la complaisance avec par exemple la description des fantasmes de domination sur les femmes d’un homo refoulé.

Difficile de prendre plaisir à lire ce livre, on est même plutôt proche du dégoût. Cela
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Terry
The setting for this novel is a Caribbean country on the verge of a coup d'_tat. Characters are developed to show that each is fighting for his own goals, not for those of the government. Roche is a has been that is honest, but thinks of his London past too much. Jimmy wants battle and finds it in sexual encounters. He is seen as the leader of the coup. Jane fights only for herself and is killed by Jimmy at the end. I liked the way the characters were built, but still like Finding the Center the ...more
my name is corey irl
its all abt that whole post-colonial milieu and sense of vague dread and it's heck of ominious and i guess all the characters hate each other or something?? maybe thats a analogy about race relations??? an instead of going on about nkrumah all the time all the islanders are real pumped up about the zionist movement and i didnt know that was a thing outside of like roots music wow. also my copy had a 1985 newspaper article about breyton breytenbach in it and you would not BELIEVE what a pajero so ...more
Joyce
I picked this up at a used book store yesterday for 50 cents along with a half dozen other Naipaul paperbacks. This was the first book of his that I read and that was back in 1979 or 1980. It made a huge impression on me, I thought it was a great story and great writing and I'm looking forward to re-reading it to see if it stands up to my original impression. I've since read A Bend in the River and A House for Mr. Biswas so am looking forward to reading some of the earlier novels that fell into ...more
Brendan Mcgillicuddy
Beautifully written, one of the most brutal books about post-colonialism I've ever read. In the beginning, violence seems imminent. Eventually one gets used to the idea of its threat and begins thinks it might never happen - hmmm, perhaps much like those regarding post-colonial nations from their comfortable seats in the Motherland. The blatant symbolism of the violence of the last few pages does little to distance one from the actual violence that occurred.
Kv Santosh
The book retains Naipaul's incisive writing, but fails to capture the spirit of imminent revolution. The protagonist is a woman whose arrival and interaction with would-be guerillas culminate in her murder. The coup itself forms only a nebulous backdrop to the protagonist's relationships. Not the best from the Nobel laureate.
Whitney
Beautifully written - really disturbing at the end - a psychological unraveling like Heart of Darkness - did Jimmy win in the end? Is Roche going to tell? (I don't think so...) I think no one has power at the end, everyone is vulnerable to something, and this reflects the disorder in society, lack of powerful government....
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Naipaul was born and raised in Trinidad, to which his grandfathers had emigrated from India as indentured servants. He is known for the wistfully comic early novels of Trinidad, the bleaker novels of a wider world remade by the passage of peoples, and the vigilant chronicles of his life and travels, all written in characteristic, widely admired, prose.

At 17, he won a Trinidad Government scholarshi
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More about V.S. Naipaul...
A House for Mr Biswas A Bend in the River Miguel Street Half a Life In a Free State

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