A House for Mr Biswas
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...more
The whole thing is a slow, ponderous crawl through the life of a Mr Third World Nobody who gets married by accident and appears to have four kids also by accident, without having any sex as far as I co...more
Of course you have, so you perhaps you can commiserate with my experience with A House for Mr Biswas, an unfortunate slog if there ever was one. Night after night I dove in, hopeful to roll into a breakthrough moment (similar to the one I had in Atonement or Sons and...more
I shy away from the postcolonial contemporary third world fiction. Most of them overwhe...more
The descriptions of family life, of community, and of the nat...more
While Naipaul may seem to be copying the modality of the nineteenth century novel, his main intention here is to construct a self-propagating comic system (in a post-colonial set-up). And he succeeds marvelously in that. The Naipaul system: layered through family, religion, poverty, national identity issues, third-world-ism, third-world journalism and, last but not the least, third-world individuality, is a triumph of twentieth century literature. Inc...more
This is a book for adults--people who have struggled continually to figure out how to live their lives, people who have dealt with the opposing forces of obligation to family and the desire for independence.
It's not a page-turner--and I admire that. There are satisfactions to be found in reading besides wanting to know what happens--the ever-changing balance of power in families; the slight accidents that change lives forever; the mulled-over decisions which change...more
Finished this in the run up to Christmas, and I have to say, as a nov...more
Finally done, only a few months post-discussion-of-it. There...more
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. Biswa
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
I always try to spot a special detail by Nobel Prize Winners -- in this case Trinidad and Tobago's Nobel Prize Literature Winner.
The Prologue prepares the reader for learning about the life of Mr Mohum Biswas. Right from the beginning the author refers to Mohun as Mr Biswas beginning when he was a baby and on to the end.
This novel exposes the reader to life in the Caribbean islands-country during the early days of World War II....more
Born in Trinidad in a poor home he is tricked into marrying Shama Tulsi daughter of the well known, very rich Tulsi House, all because he had had the temerity to write ‘I love you’ on a scrap of paper and hand it over to her. Although warned by many he persists in marrying her.
Everyone knows that the Tulsis are on lookout for drones for their daughters, once married the husbands become their property. They...more
Like A Bend in the River, a large part of A House for Mr Biswas is about the search for roots in the post-colonial world. Mohun Biswas spends his entire life looking for a place to live which feels like his own, something which is already complicated by his place in the large Indian community in Trinidad. He is poor but of high caste, and this gives him strange relationships with the people around him, especially when he marries into the Tulsi family, rich but of low caste and trying not to beco...more
I remember my first experience as a teenager being totally engrossed in this character Mohun that Naipaul had created. Tragic, comedic and the novel being a bit confusing at times getting to grips with the number of characters involved in this story.
At the age of 48 I had another read and the perspective is of course very different.
I think above all this is a very human...more
In particular, the chaotic atmosphere of the Hanuman House, and other assorted dwellings of Mr. Biswas' Tulsi in-laws (with whom he has to live for most all of his life after he marries one o...more
The author employs...more
I did like it. The characters are fun and engaging. The story kept me interested, and I read the book every chance I got.
But it did have some flaws. Trying to be Dickensian, there is too much going on. Too many characters, too many subplots, too many episodes of the plot that make the same points and delay developments. His m...more
Mr. Biswas has a skewed vision...more
A House for Biswas is the second book by Naipaul that I've read (after A Bend in the River) that is preoccupied with the corruption, decay, and general shabbiness of the post-colonial world....more
Knowing virtually nothing about this book before I opened it, it took me some time to adjust to it. You see, this is not a drama or an adventure, it is the story of one man’s life. Once I became used to the idea that this book would not have a traditional plot, that it was a darkly humourous take on the life of the “little man”, I was immediately engrossed. Mr. Biswas is an unlikeable chap. He repeatedly embarrasses himself, he is weak, he is temperamental, he strikes out irrationally at those c...more
The last time I read it was while a friend of mine was doing VSO on Nevis and I was using information supplied by him to write my PGCE dissertation on education in the West Indies, so I probably approached it then in the spirit of research. I enjoyed it much more than I had remembered: perhaps because the Indian-ness of the families is a far more fam...more