Author(s): V. S. Naipaul
The theme is displacement, the yearning for the good place in someone else's land, the attendant heartache. In a Free State tells first of an Indian servant in Washington, who becomes an American citizen but feels he has ceased to be a part of the flow. Then of a disturbed Asian West Indian in London who, in jail for murder, has never really known where he is. Then the central novel moves to Africa, to a fictional country something like Uganda or Rwanda. Its two main characters are English. They once found Africa liberating, but now it has gone sour on them. The land is no longer safe, and at a time of tribal conflict they have to make the long drive to the safety of their compound. At the end of this drive -- the narrative tight, wonderfully constructed, the formal and precise language always instilled with violence and rage -- we know everything about the English characters, the African country and the Idi Amin-like future awaiting it. This is one of V. S. Naipaul's greatest novels, hard but full of pity. It won the Booker Prize in 1971. 'A book of such lucid complexity and such genuine insight, so deft and deep, that it somehow manages to agitate, charm, amuse and excuse the reader all at the same pitch of experience' Dennis Potter, The Times
"V. S. Naipaul tells stories which show us ourselves and the reality we live in. His use of language is as precise as it is beautiful." -- "The London Times"
"A Tolstoyan spirit....The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist." --John Updike, "The New Yorker
" "The coolest literary eye and the most lucid prose we have." "--The New York"
V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at University College, Oxford, he began to write, and since then has followed no other profession. He has published more than twenty books of fiction and non-fiction, including Half a Life, A House for Mr Biswas, A Bend in the River and most recently The Masque of Africa, and a collection of letters, Between a Father and Son. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.