Friday, January 27, 2017

A House for Mr. Biswas - V. S. Naipaul

A House for Mr. Biswas
Title: A House for Mr. Biswas
Author: V. S. Naipaul
Publication Date: 1961
Pages: 623
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 1/13/17

Summary: Mohun Biswas dreams of a house of his own - a symbol of independence. This is the story of his life, his attempts to make that dream a reality, and the people and events that stood in his way.

What I Thought: I liked this book. I did not really know what to expect from it at all, but I found it quite enjoyable. I felt so badly for poor Mr. Biswas throughout the whole thing. Yes, he makes some stupid decisions, but all he ever wants is a house of his own and some independence. Yet, at every turn, something happens to keep him from that dream. Every time he seems close, circumstances change and once again he is living with his detestable in-laws.

Naipaul's writing was easy to follow for me, a modern reader. The book is set in Trinidad, though Mr. Biswas and his family are all of Indian descent. I had no idea there was such a large Indian presence on the Caribbean island, so now I want to learn more about how that happened. The culture was so interesting to me, especially as Naipaul is dealing with a fraught time. Trinidad is presented just post-colonialism and the later part of the book gives mention to WWII, although it certainly doesn't have the impact on the characters here as it does for books set in the same time in America or Europe. 

This was a nice change of pace from other books on the list. I still felt some of those same overriding tones of imperialism and the war eras, but it was written from a very different perspective. To me, this book is a great example of the need or diversity in the books we read. The best person to tell the story of an Indo-Trinidadian IS an Indo-Trinidadian. We need a wider range of voices in our literature. That's something I plan on seeking out when I finish this challenge. Reading this book was a great reminder to be of the value in that plan and how much I need to read more diverse stories written by more diverse authors. 

Quote I Loved: "This education is a helluva thing...any little child could pick up. And yet the blasted thing does turn out so damn important later on."

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibily

A Reduced Review: The story of Mr. Biswas is simultaneously entertaining, sad, and a good reminder of the importance of diversity in literature.

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