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Half a Life

Naipaul, V. S.

3,299 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0330485164 / ISBN 13: 9780330485166
Published by Picador USA, London, 2001
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Hoffman Books, ABAA, IOBA (Columbus, OH, U.S.A.)

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First Edition. This is a clean, fresh copy. Very Good in a very good dust jacket. ; 1 x 8.6 x 5.6 Inches; 228 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 68625

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Half a Life

Publisher: Picador USA, London

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Half A Life

Review:

Half a Life finds the veteran Booker and Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul on familiar territory, blending autobiography and fiction in an exploration of the "half lives" of individuals brought up in the English colonies and educated in metropolitan cities.

Naipaul's protagonist is Willie Somerset Chandran, named after Somerset Maugham's encounter with Willie's father in the 1930s while traveling "to get material for a novel about spirituality." Willie travels to England for his education, where he becomes "part of the special, passing bohemian-immigrant life of London of the late 1950s." Willie soon realizes that his colonial background allows him to write short stories for well-meaning white liberals, and he begins "to understand that he was free to present himself as he wished" and that he could "remake himself and his past" through his writing. The effect is suffocating rather than liberating, and he marries a vaguely sketched "girl or young woman from an African country," who has read his one published book. Willie begins another "half life" in colonial Mozambique, where he soon tires of the domestic and sexual tedium of plantation life and flees to Germany, mournfully reflecting that "I have been hiding for too long."

This is classic Naipaul, with its effortless dissection of the damaging personal consequences of post-war decolonization, but its virtue seems its primary vice, as the novel feels like a conflation of several earlier Naipaul books, including The Mimic Men and the brilliant A Bend in the River. Consequently, some readers may well find that Half a Life reads more like half a novel. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk

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