Africa Reading Challenge - 3. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul

From Rob Crilly - African Safari Thu Jun 5 2008, 15:50:25

When Salim leaves his home on Africa's ocean coast to take over a small trading shop deep in the continent's interior he embarks on an adventure that marks his coming of age - in stark contrast to the progress of his adopted country, which is stuck in an endless cycle of upheaval. The town at the bend in the river has emerged from colonial rule to strike out on its own. Naipaul constructs a fascinating cast of characters - Greeks, Asians and left-over colonials - that still turn up in the most unlikely of African backwaters today. There are small shops selling nothing very much, tedious local officials and an endless supporting cast of mysterious mercenaries and mzungus who have caught the eye of the president. Salim, a young man from an Indian family, is both an insider and an outsider: Viewed as a foreigner by the locals but with no other home except Africa he makes a perfect narrator of the repeated crises that erupt around him. The writing is at times blinding, brilliantly evoking the feel of the trading posts that give Africa its heartbeat and the crooks and thugs trying to smother it. They made such play with the national flag and the portrait of the President - the two now always going together - that in the beginning I thought these new officers stood for a new, constructive pride. But they were simpler. The flag and the President's portrait were only like their fetishes, the sources of their authority. They didn't see, these young men, that there was anything to build in their country. As far as they were concerned, it was all their already. They only had to take. A deeply depressing read but at the same time it captures a time and a place that seems to perfectly describe the trouble with Africa. My previous reviews in the Africa Reading Challenge Warriors by Gerald Hanley The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse

People and Organizations:


You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Rwanda:  'Hotel Rwanda' Hero Awaits Verdict On Terrorism Charges (news)
Deutsche Welle
19 September 2021

A Rwandan court is expected to issue a verdict on Paul Rusesabagina. His story, in which he saved scores of people during the Rwandan genocide, inspired the film 'Hotel Rwanda,' but now Kigali accuses ... [read more]

Nigeria:  Angry Sokoto Residents Go After Bandits, Kill Six (news)
Premium Times
19 September 2021

The bandits were traced to their hideout in the forest, captured and later killed. About 12 hours after bandits kidnapped and later killed two persons in Tangaza community of Sokoto State, residents ... [read more]

Africa:  Volleyball - Rwanda Bows to Pressure, Continues 2021 African Nations Championship (news)
Leadership
19 September 2021

Rwanda Government on Sunday bowed to pressure from Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) and promised to conclude the 2021 African Women's Senior Nations Championship. Rwanda Ministry of ... [read more]



blogAfrica is allAfrica.com's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!