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A Bend in the River

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,746 Ratings  ·  583 Reviews
When Salim, a young Indian man, is offered a small business in Central Africa, he accepts. As he strives to establish himself, he becomes closely involved with the fluid and dangerous politics of the newly-dependent state.
Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 10th 2002 by Picador USA (first published 1979)
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Henrique I got the same question!
From the wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bend_...

Although it does not mention that he is dead, nether that he is…more
I got the same question!
From the wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bend_...

Although it does not mention that he is dead, nether that he is alive.(less)
Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Africa
53rd out of 1,239 books — 1,231 voters
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsWatership Down by Richard AdamsThe Stand by Stephen KingThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Shining by Stephen King
Best Books of the Decade: 1970's
114th out of 1,001 books — 1,099 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sunil
May 27, 2014 Sunil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, favorites
I always find it difficult to talk about the books I really like. Especially so if it is a Naipaul book. I read The Bend again this year and found it much more ensorcelling than first time around . I guess what is so appealing about the book is its sense of diligence, a discipline which attempts to faithfully reflect the emerging world in Africa, as it is. No more no less. Perhaps, this is why, even after half a century and million more theses written on Africa, it still reflects the essence of ...more
Alex
Say there's a bad guy. He's in a book; the book is well-written; fine, there are many books about bad guys. Say further that the book is written by a bad guy. Fine; lots of authors are dicks. Now say that the author is unaware that they're both bad guys. He hasn't written the book he thinks he's written. Now where are you?

A Bend in the River's Salim is a bad guy. He's a bully and a coward. He doesn't know that he's a bully and a coward, and VS Naipaul doesn't seem to know either. (view spoiler)
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 17, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 to 2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
My copy of this book is a POB (previously owned book). There are a lot of scribbles using different colors of highlighters (pink, yellow and green). In one of the pages is a name: Danielle Sidari. I googled her name yesterday and one of these days I will invite her to be my friend in Facebook. Who knows?

Anyway, it is my first time to read a book with a lot of scribbles. Danielle is not a bad reader. Rather her comments and the phrases she underlined seem to indicate that she is smart. There is j
...more
Blair
Jul 11, 2008 Blair rated it it was amazing
I read this book in Central Africa, during my Peace Corps service. I maintain that it is the best, most accurate depiction of Central African society - a broad term, believe me, I know, but still - that I have read.

I found this novel engrossing and moving, and it inspired me to begin collecting Naipaul's other works; all of which are good, albeit not as good as this one.

Naipaul has been criticized for denigrating third world countries and societies. Strange, since he comes from one - he was born
...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
4/30 here we go....

I hear it sucks.

5/7/09

A total snoozefest.

Naipaul is a Nobel Prize winner?
That's crust!

I did a bit of research on Naipaul as I was reading this thinking, "are you freaking kidding me?!?!" Rave reviews in Newsweek, New York Times.. and on and on and on. The Nobel Committee compared Naipaul to Joseph Conrad, saying, "Naipaul is Conrad's heir."

Photobucket


Maybe that's just me sticking up for Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness (and fellow Pole!)

Or perhaps it's just me recognizing subpar lit
...more
Rowena
Jan 08, 2013 Rowena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Laura from work
This book had such a promising start. Naipaul's descriptions of mid-20th Century Africa were great and I think he did a terrific job of highlighting tribalism and what it must feel like to be considered an outsider in Africa. There weren't too many likeable characters in this book. I started off liking Salim because he was a young Indian man who left his home on the coast to go to a town along old slave trails. However, his sexism was too much for me. Obviously Naipaul feels Africa is a dark con ...more
Dave Russell
Apr 14, 2008 Dave Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, worst
This is a lousy boring book. Naipaul seems very interested in telling us How The World Works, or at least how it works in Africa (he does know Africa is a continent and not a country, right?) The problem, though, is that this is ostensibly a novel and not a work of non-fiction, and Naipaul isn't a very good storyteller. He mostly narrates rather than dramatizes. There are long, long passages where there is no dialogue, which would be all right if something interesting actually happened in those ...more
Jon
Jun 21, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it
The book examines the post-colonial turmoil that occurs in an unnamed African country soon after it's independence. However, this isn't a political thriller. Naipaul takes his time with the story and the pace is fairly leasurely as the both the setting and the characters are introduced and then developed in great detail. The main character is Salim, a man of ethnic Indian descent who relocates to a small town in the central African country. There he buys a small shop, makes friends with other ex ...more
Riku Sayuj
The characters felt like matchstick figures to me, somehow devoid of real life. I am not sure why though. The story is powerful and the flow of history is overwhelming, but I couldn't connect and experience it with them, and that was off-putting.
Teresa
Pouco romance. Pouca emoção.
Muita política. Muita vida africana.
Grande aborrecimento. Desisti a meio.
AC
Apr 30, 2014 AC rated it it was amazing
I listened to this on audible, while driving. I don't drive that much - and I've had to use much of my driving time for more pressing items. So this took me forever. But I listened to it so closely, that rather than losing the thread, it was like reading it twice. Naipaul's voice is a voice of such genuine intelligence and clarity -- such a human sympathy for characters and such a careful grasp of plotting -- that I was immediately awed by it. If you've never read this, then you have a treat in ...more
Ami
May 31, 2008 Ami rated it liked it
Naipaul, despite being so highly revered, is quite possibly more of an ass than Ernest Hemingway. Character flaws aside, this book was a bit slow and I didn't see the significance it promised.
David Lentz
Mar 30, 2012 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
I suppose it's inevitable that readers will compare Naipaul's view of the bush to Joseph Conrad's. Naipaul portrays an ancient African civilization coming to grips with the intrusion of modern society thrust by economic boom into its midst. So the merchants and business traders take the steamer up the river to a bend where the New Africa is emerging. However, deep and primitive aggressions always seem to surface perhaps because they are so imbedded into man's warrior instincts. And the New Afric ...more
Genia Lukin
Mar 09, 2016 Genia Lukin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
Why do people read this creep?

Why do they indulge him, give him prizes, accolades, titles? How is this man's being the darling of the literary establishment not screaming to the world of a huge problem that we have in our priorities, in our regard, in our purported striving for equality or, I don't know, something.

Here is a man who writes 19th Century sentiment - really, more of an 18th Marquis de Sadian sentiment - in the middle of the 20th, and no one in the establishment that doles out Nobels
...more
Brad Lyerla
Oct 22, 2015 Brad Lyerla rated it it was amazing
The news that V.S. Naipal had won the Nobel Prize for Literature came shortly after the shocking events of 9-11. The Wall Street Journal hailed the news and editorialized that Naipal was especially worthy as a third world author who embraced the values of the west. Quoting A BEND IN THE RIVER, the Journal argued that Naipal's message is that men in the third world should be judged by the same standards as men in the industrialized west.

For some reason, the Journal's assessment of A BEND IN THE
...more
Raghu
May 14, 2007 Raghu rated it really liked it
This is my most favorite novel from V.S.Naipaul. In fact, the novel's setting and progress is such that when one reads it many years it was written, which is what I did, one can realize how prophetic and perceptive it is about Africa and its future after colonialism ends there. Naipaul is analytical and thoroghly unsentimental and consequently, he is rather pessimistic about Africa's resurgence with the end of colonialism, contrary to what many liberals believed. The story is absorbing, tracing ...more
Szplug
Aug 04, 2011 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains one of the great opening lines: The World is what it is: men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it. It isn't long before the reader realizes that Africa is The World writ large, that this crepuscular leviathan of raw nature, beautiful and brutal, shrugs off civilization's efforts to restrain her like so many flea-bites. In an unnamed town—Kisangani—in an unnamed country—the Congo—under the boot of the Big Man—Mobutu—Salim arrives from the ...more
Kate Z
Jun 13, 2011 Kate Z rated it it was ok
I was going to read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I really really was. But even though I have really liked most of the recent books I've read I feel like I've become this read-bot just reading all these indie bookstore picks by American authors. I just had to jump out of my rut and read something ELSE. I read Half A Life a few years ago and enjoyed it in that "I like anti-colonialism literature" kind of way and I've had A Bend In the River sitting on my shelf since then. It promises to be nega ...more
Suzanne
“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”

A Bend in the River is the story of Salim, a native of India, who travels to Africa in search of a better life. He finds himself at a town at the bend of a large river in a newly independent African nation. The author does not name this nation, but only claims that it is centrally located, just east of Uganda. Salim purchases a shop for a greatly discounted rate – it’s owner having left f
...more
Lobstergirl
May 04, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rashard Mendenhall
Shelves: own, fiction
This was really, really good. The story felt very familiar, as I had read Michela Wrong's book on the Mobutu regime recently (this novel takes place in an unnamed country which is clearly Zaire, in the years after the end of the colonial regime). Naipaul writes about identities here: national, ethnic, human, male. His characters struggle for status or supremacy, or even just a little dignity. His themes are Africa vs. Europe, African vs. Indian vs. white, educated vs. uneducated, developed and u ...more
Tony
Feb 04, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it
A BEND IN THE RIVER. (1979). V. S. Naipaul. ****.
Naipaul (b. 1932) has attempted to encapsulate the full spectrum of a country’s evolution in this excellent effort. The transition from a bush-league country to the beginnings of a world power is fully explored much like his hero Conrad did in many of his works. Naipaul was born in Trinidad of Indian parents. He was educated in England, and soon opted to follow the life of a writer over those that might have beckoned to him from his studies. He ha
...more
Joe Dyer
Apr 14, 2008 Joe Dyer rated it it was amazing
Life and times of a shopkeeper in a rural outpost in tumultuous post-colonial central Africa. Naipul provides insights and wisdom about the complexity of race, ethnicity, and nationality in Africa and spins a damn good yarn at the same time.
Shilpi Gowda
Nov 10, 2009 Shilpi Gowda rated it it was amazing
I read this classic book while on my first trip to India by myself as an adult, and it made a deep impression.
Mikela
Jan 29, 2015 Mikela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking...profound...sad...excellent read.
Joseph
Apr 07, 2016 Joseph rated it it was amazing
I find the accusation that Naipaul is in some way lamenting the loss of colonial Africa to be absurd. The infrastructure crumbled after colonialism and corruption became rampant in the African administrations. Naipaul describes those things, and some apologists don't like the comparisons, or feel that there are mitigating circumstances, but Naipaul is telling the story in its time, and the comparison makes the country he's describing look shabby and sad. Blaming him for the result of the compari ...more
Roseb612
Dec 19, 2015 Roseb612 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roseb612 by: 1001
Na téhle knize mě zaujal styl - od první věty mi Naipaulův způsob psaní prostě sednul. Nebylo to lehké nebo rychlé čtení, ale něco na tom, jak to bylo napsané mě okouzlovalo. Asi od poloviny knihy mě ale ten pocit opustil - nevím, zda se tak změnil styl psaní, či zda jsem si zvykla a kouzlo vyprchalo, ale v pozdějších částech knihy už mě spíš štval hlavní hrdina než okouzlovalo autorovo kouzlení se slovy. Ostatně ten fatalistický přístup většiny postav k vlastnímu osudu je pro mě nepochopitelný, ...more
marie
Nov 12, 2010 marie rated it it was ok
This is a novel of postcolonial Africa, like Things Fall Apart, but it is more complex, dense and more packed with ideas. I couldn't relate to the topic, found myself laboring to finish it, and I have realized that I will now choose the next 1001 books I read with more care as to theme. (African postcolonialism isn't one of my priorities. Such a theme seems dated, somehow, although doubtless with all that's happening in that continent when I read the news this novel still holds true in parts of ...more
Valentina
Apr 20, 2010 Valentina rated it really liked it
By personal upbringing and sheer talent, Naipaul can talk about far-away lands and people of mixed origins and nomadic lifestyles like nobody else. Here, with his typically honest and sometime ruthless eye, Naipaul takes the reader to the heart of Africa, to a town that sits by a bend in an unnamed river (which is thought to be the Congo). He zooms on the life of Salim, the narrator, an Africa-born Indian Muslim who moves from the east coast to the interior in the hope of finding fortune and, in ...more
Simon Mcleish
May 28, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in November 1999.

Many parts of Africa in the seventies must have been bewildering, terrifying places to live. The driving forces for instability were very strong, based partly on the conflicting feelings of the recently independent nations towards the former colonial powers: hatred of what they had stood for, jealousy of their wealth, and a desperate desire to be as "advanced". The need for the West to provide the status symbols the new nations desperately wa
...more
Daniel
Aug 14, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it
I read an article somewhere about a man in Africa who made his living as a river guide. He was bemoaning the loss of the colonial days where as brutal as the ruling regimes could be, at least there were factories, schools, roads and hospitals set up by the oppressing foreigners. As his country since has descended into anarchy, war and poverty, it seems that the loss of freedoms was a small price to pay.

When I read A Bend in the River, I got the feeling that there was some of the same kind of fe
...more
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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
...more
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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.” 101 likes
“Non-fiction can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies.” 43 likes
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