India: A Million Mutinies Now by V S Naipaul - review by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux

Trusting Well-Wisher

India: A Million Mutinies Now

By

William Heinemann 391pp £15.95 order from our bookshop
 

In his last travel book – though 'travel book' does not quite describe A Turn in the South – V S Naipaul spoke about a more conventional book, the sort many travellers write today and the sort of country they travel in. The place might be in Africa or South America. 'It is often enough for a traveller in that kind of country to say, more or less, "This is me here. This is me getting off the old native bus and being led by strange boys, making improper proposals, to some squalid lodging. This is me having a drink in a bar with some local characters. This is me getting lost later that night."'

There is none of that here – indeed, there never was any of that in Naipaul's travel books. The Middle Passage (1962) was straightforward enough, but it was not about Naipaul-in-an-alien- landscape; it was about slavery and the persistence of memory. An Area of Darkness ( 1964) was a rediscovery

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