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A Turn In The South

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3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  423 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Naipaul brings his unique intellect and insight to bear on the complex, often hidden life and culture of the South. His is a break-out book that speaks directly to the American audience. This signed limited first edition of A Turn In The South been published by special arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and Penguin Books.
Leather Bound, Signed Limited First Edition, 307 pages
Published 1989 by The Franklin Library
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James Murphy
Sep 14, 2009 James Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book much as Naipaul came to the South, curious and eager to see what was in store for me. I think both of us were surprised. I was surprised that someone as worldly as I think Naipaul is would begin a turn in the South expecting racial disharmony and faceoffs. I think he was surprised to find, by talking to many people black and white, that this isn't so and also that religion is a robust influence there. He doesn't say he was going to see the black South. He explains he'd never ...more
Krishna
Feb 25, 2012 Krishna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What someone from outside thinks of America is not much reported. Naipaul, who grew up in Caribbeans to go to England to become a writer, returns to the USA in his middle-age and meets the people after going to places, to find out what makes the America or the USA of Today. The conflict of races and religion continue to simmer below the surface. The North-South divide of it is so well explored by Naipaul.
The transformation from an agrarian to an industrialised nation, from one where the franchi
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Mary
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Naipaul tours the southern United States and shares his impressions. He was raised in Trinidad, so has the perspective of an outsider. He puzzles over race, religion, history, and culture. As a novelist, his observations are not particularly tidy; he doesn't draw a lot of conclusions, but tries to approach his subjects from a number of angles. I was especially interested in his ideas about the past as religion for some white southerners--the places and situations ...more
Scott Munden
Well, when Naipaul is bad, he's simply boring. I expected so much more from the man raised in the rural south of Trinidad. He spends far too much time in the cities of the American south. He could be in any city in North America and learn the same things. The culture, history, scars and festering wounds of the south are to be found in its poverty-plagued rural towns and certainly not within the gleaming towers of Atlanta. Theroux's approach to the south is so much more interesting and it's impos ...more
Selina
Jul 29, 2009 Selina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know much about Dixie apart from reading and watching Gone With the Wind, or books about Elvis Presley, so this book was an interesting perspective. Naipaul travels around the South and does find interesting people to talk to, so much of this is oral history. It is no the kind of travel book in which someone gets on a greyhound bus and complains about the motels they stay in, or quotes from tourist brochures, which is a relief. Nor is it a 'cultureshock' book.

I learned the South is very
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Kathi
Jan 27, 2010 Kathi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband, who loves all things Naipaul, has been recommending this for a while. I've been dragging my feet because Naipaul novels haven't grabbed me. PLUS, my spouse and I tend not to cross over on favorite living authors. I'm about 1/3 of the way into this and am loving it. Naipaul's experiences/observations about the South, it's history, legacy, character are excellent. He has an outsider's (non-US born) view and relates some of his encounters back to the social/racial strata in his native T ...more
Antiabecedarian
Oct 21, 2007 Antiabecedarian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: half-read
all I can recall from "what I learned from this book:"

Naipaul is a TERRIBLE and PLODDING interviewer. It serves him and the subect no justice... in general, I like Naipaul's fiction. In general, I love Naipaul's fiction. V.S. Naipaul is my favorite writer. His brother Shiva Naipaul died too soon, for he did indeed have the knack, talent, wit, and proper disingenuity for unequalled "travel" writing. I wish that Shiva Naipaul had been alive to write this book. I don't care what V.S. Naipaul thinks
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Patty
Jul 20, 2009 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-bios
Recommended by my husband. Clearly written if you enjoy travel. It made me want to take that southern vacation that I,ve been talking about for the last 14 years. I also plan to read more by this author. He's written quite a bit but I am not familiar with him.
Mark Heyne
Jun 08, 2012 Mark Heyne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
This is a lot better than Enigma of Arrival. Naipaul travels in the southern Bible-belt states of America, and enjoys what he finds. He is highly sympathetic to the rednecks, and his powers of observation are at full effect.
Kobe Bryant
I got tired of all these religious folk, I get it VS bro. I liked the part about rednecks though
John
Not particularly dated, for a book written a generation ago, although the last section on tobacco farming in NC is probably not nearly as applicable today.
Amrendra Pandey
Coming from an agrarian cultural background highly appreciated this book about Southern American culture and its views about slavery and desegregation.
Miriam
Apr 18, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, FINE. I'm a Southerner. Florida is this weird south-not-south place, so sometimes I don't identify with "Southern" literature and sometimes I do. I found myself getting oddly defensive about some of his writing--when he complains about the heat, when he criticizes fat people. I felt like he was missing the point and being purposefully obtuse. And he seemed to listen to and portray men better--the women seem a little silly and inarticulate.

It's best when he lets the people talk. And there are
...more
Scott
Jan 07, 2015 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've long admired Naipaul's prose and the keen observational ability he brings to his travel writing. This book from the late 1980's is about a few months spent in the American South, traveling through the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This was at a time when the "New South" was emerging and the generations of the Civil Rights struggle were still around. Naipaul covers these trends, mostly through a series of interviews that include politicians, preachers, tea ...more
Tony
Feb 10, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
A TURN IN THE SOUTH. (1989). V. S. Naipaul. ***1/2.
This was the widely acclaimed travelogue by Naipaul on an assignment. He managed to highlight many sites in the South, but only managed to direct his conversations to a limited number of topics. First of all – of course – was the issue of segregation. Naipaul had a basic interest in this because of his origins in Trinidad. He was born there in 1932 before moving to England and used it as his reference point for what he found in this country rega
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Salvatore
Nov 28, 2016 Salvatore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Naipaul comes to America. Badass. At first I wondered how this book would fit into Naipaul's travelogue series - those that refract a version of India, the Caribbean, the Muslim nations of Asia. In other words: How does Naipaul see the American South parallel those foreign countries?

Well Naipaul proves that the South does, and in doing so VSN is perpetually fascinated by our American brethren way below the Mason-Dixon line. In fact Naipaul seems almost less critical but no less investigative tha
...more
Christine
Aug 05, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and appreciated Naipul's approach as well. He speaks to people in different parts of the South in an earnest and honest effort to better understand what makes the south The South. He's curious about racism, religion, red necks, politics, music, the Klu Klux Klan, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, plantations, slavery, economics and how they all come together. As an author, he is conscious of needing to continually ask new questions. He wants to get beneath th ...more
Mike
Dec 29, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Naipaul is a good writer and it shows. This book is an intriguing look at different segments of the South as it was in 1985-86 (keep that in mind). I have to wonder if he traveled today if he would have written the same book. Massive influxes of new immigrants to the South the past 25 years have rendered it unrecognizable compared to some of what Naipaul wrote. Hispanic, African and yes, south Asian communities have massively grown in urban AND rural parts of the old Confederacy. If writing toda ...more
Caitlin
Sep 25, 2013 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reading
Another school read. I only read half of it and had to return it to Chegg, but it was excellent. Naipaul's interesting heritage and background make his perspective of the South unique and insightful. His exploration and understanding of Southern culture made me take a step back and appreciate my home here in the South in a new way. I was particularly interested in his chapter on the "religion of the south" in which he describes southern pride as a type of religion which gives some people a sense ...more
Dave
Jan 21, 2011 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lived in Mississippi for about three years, but other than that not at all. I think that if I had lived there longer I might be a better judge of this book. Still, this is a strong 3 star rating, with me wondering only how much of it might be dated (it was originally published in 1989, I think). He weaves a compelling travel narrative around the South's sense of the past and place, which both comforts and imprisons in different degrees. Even so, I preferred his more recent 'Masque of Africa,' ...more
Agatha Donkar
This wasn't in any way the book I expected to read when I picked it up -- but that didn't make it any less interesting (and, sadly, occasionally boring; this was a very complex book! *grin*). A fascinating look at race and religion -- as seen by Trinidadian Naipaul -- in the late 80s. Not the "Southern culture" books I'm used to reading, but, once you've slogged through the chapters about Tallahassee and Tuskegee (which were the weakest, least interesting bits, unfortunately), an overall compell ...more
agata
Apr 06, 2012 agata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, szafa
Es ist nie einfach, eine Kultur und einen Menschenschlag zu verstehen, die so weit weg vom eigenen Selbstverständnis sind. Naipaul hat es geschafft, mir ein Gefühl zu geben, für die Welt der Menschen in den Südstaaten. Naipauls eigene Beiträge sind immer nur ein interessanter Kommentar zu dem Kern des Buchs: den Gesprächen mit den Einheimischen. Seine Gabe besteht darin, die richtigen Fragen zu stellen. Diejenigen, für die sich die Menschen öffnen und ihr Herz sprechen lassen.
Eine faszinierende
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Rich Uncle Pennybags
It's irresistible to compare this book to Paul Theroux's, even though they arugably don't have much in common. Deep South, first of all, was written much later (Naipaul describes the nascent catfish industry; it is long gone by the time Theroux is writing), and focuses on rural areas while Naipaul focuses on major cities. Naipaul is also quite interested in examining religion and its relationship to the people while Theroux wanders around a bunch of gun shows instead.

That said, this is the more
...more
Rock
Jul 28, 2014 Rock rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it felt like Naipaul was phoning it in, but overall this is well done. He mostly uses a series of conversations with locals to create a picture of the South in which its physical and social characteristics (ruined buildings, tobacco fields, deeply-rooted traditions, music) are tied together by fundamentalist religion, and in which racial issues are simultaneously the faulty wiring in that social system and an imposition from outside the region. Or maybe that's just what I got out of it ...more
Heather
Nov 24, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book while traveling around the south with Darin. Mostly South Carolina, amidst the ghosts of old plantations and wailing songs in the night. I never felt slavery so present and palpable. It was an eerie experience and reminded me of the vastness of this country that I think of as mine. Interesting to get Naipaul's perspective, as an Indian from Trinidad, with his unique and often wry way of seeing things.
Kendall
Jun 17, 2007 Kendall rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to read every book ever written.
The only reason I read this book was that I was in albany staying at bill's house, and he had it on his shelf and i needed a book. I'm glad that I read it, but it was a stale and difficult read. It makes important points and conveys valuable experiences (it's kind of a travel journal of his journey through the south... so it relates the stories of the people he encounters), but it does not do so in a very efficient manner.
Anna
Jan 01, 2013 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always interesting to hear your own culture described by a true outsider. Naipul does have some interesting insights into parts of Southern culture, but some of the characters that he talked to in his journey throughout the south made me cringe (though I have no doubt they exist as he presented them), and sometimes his wide-eyed observations got a bit old. All in all, worth a read, if only as fuel for thought.
Diana Eidson
Sep 01, 2016 Diana Eidson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Naipaul's writing, and his perspective as an outsider entering the exotic South gives me, as a native Southerner, a new perspective on my milieu. We cannot see the water we are swimming in, but with Naipaul's sensitive and erudite treatment, I find new things to appreciate and critique about my region. This book emerges as an epitome of travel writing. An intellectually stimulating and sensorium rich volume.
April
Mar 17, 2008 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In stark contrast to Paul Theroux - when Naipaul writes about a place I know (the land where I grew up, in fact) - it's fantastic. Even more compelling than his writing about places with which I'm not familiar.
Want some insight into the culture and society of the south-east United States? I'd highly recommend this book.
Derek
Mar 14, 2007 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foreign dignitaries visiting Mississippi

So this book is a series of essays by a wealthy and renowned Trinidadian author visiting the American South and trying to figure it out by talking to captains of industry and government officials. A few good insights, but mostly interesting because he misses the boat SO far on what's going on...really engrossing, but not because I'm agreeing with Naipal.
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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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