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A Turn In The South
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A Turn In The South

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  346 ratings  ·  36 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
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
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 devide of it is so well explored by Naipaul.
The transformation from an agrarian to an industrialised nation, from one where the franchi
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Kobe Bryant
I got tired of all these religious folk, I get it VS bro. I liked the part about rednecks though
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
I have liked books by v s naipal from the first time I read his first book. What particularly caught my attention his simple way of writing, his refreshing way of looking at people. All these characteristic were present ina turn in the south.though indian political scenario has changed a lot since book was written yet we r able to relate to incidents in books
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
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
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
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
Oct 28, 2007 Kendall rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
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.
Mar 14, 2007 Derek rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
dead letter office
v.s. naipaul visits the american south, then decides he's qualified to write a book explaining it to the rest of us. the premise is so arrogant, and this book is so irritatingly full of crap, that i would have given it one star were it not for a brilliant several-page passage on rednecks.
A lot of interesting observations here, but not a book with much structure or even, really, much of a point or a thesis. I enjoyed the anecdotes, but kept looking for that unifying theme or something to tie it all together. That never happened.
Tanyadee Reyes
Mar 31, 2008 Tanyadee Reyes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tanyadee by: Tim Marchman
I read this almost 7 years ago, so my fond memory may be faulty. Naipaul does a fine job writing about the region where my family (unfortunately) lives.
Sparked me to travel outside of the NYC metropolitan area. There are things to experience in this country that can not be found in the 5 boros.
Gail Zachariah
Everyone but me seemed to really like this nonfiction travelogue of the South by Naipaul. I didn't seem to trust his narration.
As with all VS Naipaul books, a very eloquent read. Written in 1989, so a bit dated, but still quite relevant.
OK, maybe Naipaul seems a little funnier when he's talking about my own people, but he's still annoying.
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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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