`In a Free State was conceived in 1969 as a sequence about displacement. There was to be a central novel, set in Africa, with shorter surrounding matter from other places. The shorter pieces from these varied places were intended to throw a universal light on the African material.
But then, as the years passed and the world changed, and I felt myself less of an oddity as a writer, I grew to feel that the central novel was muffled and diminished by the surrounding material and I began to think that the novel should be published on its own. This is what, thirty-seven years after its first publication, my publisher is doing in this edition.' V.S. Naipaul
In a Free State is set in Africa, in a place like Uganda or Rwanda, and its two main characters are English. They had once found liberation in Africa. But now Africa is going sour on them. The land is no longer safe, and at a time of tribal conflict they have to make a 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 its original edition, in 1971.
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"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"
About V. S. Naipaul
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 correspondence, Letters Between A Father and Son. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul
V. S. Naipaul
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