Review: A Way in the World, V.S. Naipaul

Rating: 3 out of 5

It’s difficult for me to write about this book. In a very simple classification, I’ll draw a line between what happened in the past that was used as a narrative device and the activity in the more recent present which was (maybe?) intended as a personal journey. The past was straightforward as one has an inkling of where it will lead. The present, really, it could have led anywhere… and it could have also been anything…

The narrations on the historical people were very well written. It was refreshing to experience a narrative of Columbus, Raleigh, and de Miranda — whom I only met for the second time after his introduction to me in ‘Bolivar’ — which treated them as people. The actions they undertook had a human motive above anything else.

And the more I reflect on this work, the more some aspects of the prose stand out. The book begins by a description of early Trinidad, and it was striking in its tone and depth. The reader is brought back here a few times, but also taken through Asia and Africa — plus the occasional visit into ‘high-society’ England.

In all of this is a search, a yearning, and I don’t think what I wanted to read matches what Mr Naipaul wrote. I am sure there are some greater truths hidden in this, and perhaps I will return a decade or two hence.

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