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In a Free State
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Past Reads > In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul, pages 104 to the end

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George (georgejazz) | 459 comments Mod
Please comment here on pages 104 to the end of In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul.


Irene | 524 comments I liked the first two stories and the scene on the boat which was the prologue, better than this second half. I struggled to keep up with In A Free State. I understood the tension with the military forces and the unraveling relationships between native and British populations, but the dynamic in the car was a bit perplexing at times. They said things to each other that was strange to my ear. For example, when they stop at the compound for the night and are sitting down for dinner, she sends him up to the room saying that there is someone there for him, but there is no one. What was that all about? Or near the end of the trip when he stops to confront the soldiers with their captives and ends up getting beat up, she just sits in the car and seems to have no reaction when he returns. One minute they are just fine together, the next they are insulting each other and she is out of the car walking along this ddeserted stretch of road and then they are in a small shop drinking tea and talking to the Indian owner about his plans to relocate and then.... It just seemed disjointed despite the fact that it was one continuous road trip.


message 3: by George (last edited Aug 02, 2018 11:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

George (georgejazz) | 459 comments Mod
Yes, it's an uncomfortable two day journey by Bobby and Linda who have little in common apart from their skin colour. The communication between Bobby and Linda is baffling at times, but shows their lack of empathy for each other.
I appreciated how as the journey progressed the old colonial confidence that was present at the start of the journey is slowly eroded and the stark violent reality of the 'new free state' appears. For expatriates this will mean a change in behaviour will be required. Linda expects to change location. Bobby's desire in seducing young black men suggests he may remain in the new free state. I guess being beaten will temper his arrogant attitude to Africans.

My favourite story was One Out of Many.
Overall an interesting, thought provoking, well written book.


Irene | 524 comments This was my first by Naipaul and I want to read more after this one. These are not stories that can be understood by a simple surface reading. Yet, there is no pyrotechnics, just good literature.


Irene | 524 comments Did everyone see that Naipaul died last week? It seems as if his unpleasant personality is getting more attention than his literary talent in the articles announcing his death.


George (georgejazz) | 459 comments Mod
No I hadn't. Thanks for bringing the information to my attention. (Just read an interesting newly published articles on Naipaul in The New Yorker).

I read Miguel Street by Naipaul recently. It's a linked short story collection told by a young fatherless man who lived on Miguel Street, Port-of-Spain, (a slum area) for over eight years. Each chapter is a short story about a different resident of the street where we learn about the character's life, their friendships, their relationships and in general how their dreams are unfilled. Written in the 1950s, a number of the stories describe women and children being beaten and even a husband is beaten by his wife. Most likely very close to the environment Naipaul himself grew up in. It's such a well written book.

Plan to read A Bend in the River and A House for Mr. Biswas in the coming months!


Irene | 524 comments A House for Mr. Biswas has been on my tbr list for several years.


George (georgejazz) | 459 comments Mod
I recently finished reading A Bend in the River. It's a superbly written, intelligent novel told by protagonist, Salim, an Indian muslim, born on the East Coast of Africa, who in his 20s decides to relocate and buy a retail business on a river town, 1,000 miles from the unnamed Central African country's capital. Salim's story is one of trying to cope and understand the society he decides to do business in. It's an unsettling story about life in Central Africa, the politics, being an African, being an outsider, corruption, the violence, the lawlessness. It is a character driven novel with the reader coming away thinking the Salim doesn't know who he really is! Highly recommended.


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