A Bend in the River (英語) ペーパーバック – 2002/5/10
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'Brilliant and terrifying' - "Observer". I had to be the man who was doing well and more than well, the man whose drab shop concealed some bigger operation that made millions. I had to be the man who had planned it all, who had come to the destroyed town at the bend in the river because he had foreseen the rich future. 'Salim, the narrator, is a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast of Central Africa. Salim has left the coast to make his way in the interior, there to take on a small trading shop of this and that, sundries, sold to the natives. The place is 'a bend in the river'; it is Africa. The time is post-colonial, the time of Independence. The Europeans have withdrawn or been forced to withdraw and the scene is one of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation, poverty and a lack of preparation for the modern world they have entered, or partially assumed as a sort of decoration. It is a story of historical upheaval and social breakdown. Naipaul has fashioned a work of intense imaginative force. It is a haunting creation, rich with incident and human bafflement, played out in an immense detail of landscape rendered with a poignant brilliance' - Elizabeth Hardwick. 'Always a master of fictional landscape, Naipaul here shows, in his variety of human examples and in his search for underlying social causes, a Tolstoyan spirit' - John Updike.
'Brilliant and terrifying' Observer商品の説明をすべて表示する
Overall this leaves a rather pessimistic view of Africa.
Naipaul maintains location anonymity, giving a mildly Kafka-esque feel.
Worth reading, although I preferred Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart".
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but now I submit full devotion to him as a keen observer of the condition of humans at the meeting of cultures at, for instance, this bend in the River in the heart of Africa.
Two sentences excerpts from the book convey what I cannot say better myself - at the beginning :
'The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it'
and and another towards the end :
'If there was a plan, these events had meaning. If there was law, the events had meaning. But there was no plan; there was no law; this was only make-believe, play, a waste of men's time in the world'
Like the writer, Salim the narrator is the perpetual outsider. His ethnicity, his religion, his family history make him an outsider in the town, in the nation, and in Africa. And Salim looks upon what gradually unfolds around him with a bewildering sense of deja vu, for though Salim do not know what is actually going on, he understands how power corrupts, how freedom bewilders and how silence can be lethal. He tries his best to help everyone, only to realize that there is nothing he can do.
For readers who have experience in a developing country, the various episodes in the novel will touch you to the quick.
I rate this four stars, however, because the author told rather than showed the story. There was little for the reader to piece together himself. The author is great at explaining how the main character thinks about another character, but the reader doesn't get to see the actual interactions, just the character's interpretation of the interaction.