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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Reading V.S. Naipaul

I first read Vidiadahr Naipaul in 1982, in a Lit class at Illinois State University, taught by Prof Stan Renner, who, I’ve only recently learned, passed away last year. Prof Renner liked to introduce authors to his lit students. We read “Guerrillas” and I didn’t understand it, frankly. A few years later I read “A House for Mr Biswas” and found that writing was a way of understanding my world, how to notice people in my neighborhood, friends, family, work relationships, and to see how unusual and profound people can be developed as characters.

Reading Mr Biswas for the third time recently, I was no less amazed at how much Naipaul gets from story out of a short scene. He can tell almost everything one needs to know about one part of a character in just a few sentences. And then he does this over and over and over, yet without ever being repetitive.

“Tara came out gravely from the kitchen, embraced Mr Biswas and wept for so long that he began to feel, with sadness and a deep sense of loss, that he really was married, that in some irrevocable way he had changed. She undid the knot at the end of her veil and took out a twenty-dollar note. He objected for a little, then took it.”


What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.

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