Literary Award Winners Fiction Book Club discussion

In a Free State
This topic is about In a Free State
Past Reads > In A Free State by V.S. Naipaul pages 1 - 103

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
Please comment here on pages 1 - 103 of In A Free State by V.S. Naipaul.

Irene | 545 comments I really liked the first two stories. Naipaul captures that fundamental disorientation from being dropped into a radically different culture with such subtlety.

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
Coincidentally I read the first two stories last night and found both engaging, interesting reads. The writing style is very descriptive and succinct. Naipaul captures a place in time very well - 'The Tramp at Piraeus'. 'One out of Many' sure does describe the disorientation of an Indian man from Bombay suddenly finding himself in a whole different world in Washington D.C.

Irene | 545 comments And I thought the story about the brothers in England captured the ambition and uncertainty and ambiguity of familial bonds and the disorientation so well. I could feel the character's mixed emotions.

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
I read this story today and was completely drawn into the supporting brother's sense of despair. The story was a little confusing in that I wasn't sure who Frank was and if someone was killed, but it didn't spoil the effectiveness of the prose. (I thought the spoilt brother had done the stabbing?! - and they had both gone to the family to explain the accident?)

(In Wikipedia in the plot summary it states that Frank is a prison guard but I am not sure of that).

Notwithstanding my confusion on what actually happened, I thought the story was a very engaging, powerful read.

Irene | 545 comments I would never have guessed that Frank was a prison guard. I was also confused by that childhood stabbing story. I thought the younger brother had stabbed the boy and the narrator was torn between the need to protect him and the guilt of being an accomplice. But, I don't know who the victim was or actually how the stabbing happened exactly. It also seemed so dramatic to establish this protective bond between the brothers.

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
Good to know I wasn't the only one a little confused about what actually happened.

Irene | 545 comments I wonder if Naipaul intended the reader to come away uncertain or if I missed something.

George (georgejazz) | 480 comments Mod
I think Naipaul purposely created uncertainty. I read a couple of reviews and there is the suggestion that Naipaul's writing style in In A Free State is avant garde. These stories are more about the characters and coping with displacement. The characters are all outsiders. The short stories, novella and two journal entries that all focus on outsiders and the questions of "what is our place in the world and do we need to have a particular place in the world?" (This quote is from Neel Mukherjee's book review of In The Free State, 20 Feb 2018, The Paris Review. A very good detailed discussion of the book. The link is: I found the article via the internet by typing In A Free State by Naipaul book reviews)

Julia Jones | 11 comments Oh, a prison guard. Now, I'm rethinking the entire story... I did not see that as a possibility.

back to top