34 Readers
17 Sages

shell pebble


In a Free State - V.S. Naipaul

I probably ought to re-read this as I don't think I had enough knowledge to understand it at the time I first read. I only remember the first story, One Out of Many which has made an indelible impression on me. Naipaul is masterful in telling the incisive tale of servitude transported, giving each character due measure of inherent decency, self-interest and flawed humanity. The uncomfortable meeting of worlds is all the more resonant because stories from the point of view of servants are so unusual. Over and over I was confronted with my own privilege and prejudice, and forced to think again. As a story of emancipation and readjustment, it's entirely without utopian illusions. The happy ending hits such a grim note to me it's almost unbearable. I guess I just have a very different world-view to Naipaul.