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Description - North of South by Shiva Naipaul

In the 1970s Shiva Naipaul travelled to Africa, visiting Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia for several months. Through his experiences, the places he visited and his various encounters, he aimed to discover what 'liberation', 'revolution' and 'socialism' meant to the ordinary people. His journey of discovery is brilliantly documented in this intimate, comic and controversial portrayal of a continent on the brink of change.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140188264
ISBN-10: 0140188266
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 20mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Penguin Classics
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 26-Sep-1996
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - North of South by Shiva Naipaul

Book Reviews - North of South by Shiva Naipaul

US Kirkus Review » Africa is hopeless, Shiva Naipaul concludes; blacks and whites are both "rotten to the core." Naipaul, the Trinidad-born novelist and brother of the better-known V.S., is of Indian descent, an "Asian" in the common view; and his own ambiguous identity - or lack of identity - disturbs him too. Ranging about East Africa for a few months, he meets black and white hucksters in capitalist Kenya: a clamorous shoeshine "boy" produces a typed and framed card, like a witch-doctor's charm, to substantiate his outrageous charges; a cynical English schoolmaster thrives by shunning blacks as teachers - his middle-class African clients "were buying an English education." Socialist Tanzania, in turn, yields black and white ideologues: "Everything that [the African] is and wants to be. . . bears the imprint of the settler." And, predictably, nothing works, nothing is as represented - from the water taps in a Five-Star Dar es Salaam hotelli, to heartless Tanzanian ujamaa (or "familyhood"), to the vaunted quarantine of white-racist South Africa (whose goods are sold openly everywhere). "Had I not learned," Naipaul expostulates at one point, "that nothing in Africa had meaning? That nothing could be taken seriously?" The question for the reader is whether Naipaul must be taken seriously. He is both a jaundiced observer (who starts by type-casting his fellow-passengers in a Brussels transit lounge) and an aggrieved Indian, heir to black and white affronts; and much of what he writes is distasteful as well as flagrantly unfair (the safari driver who refuses to honk his horn at two sleeping lions is almost the only character who's not a fool or a knave). And, finally, many will find his analysis - instability breeds degradation - to be overly simplistic: "transitional states" are not peculiar to Africa or even to the Third World. One is left at the last sorrowing for black Alberta with her Victorian trappings - "Other people must know that we don't all live in grass huts or swing from trees" - and hoping that the book as a whole, which has few such shaded moments, will be taken as Swiftian satire, not as documentation. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Shiva Naipaul

Shiva Naipaul was born in 1945 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He was educated at Queen's Royal College and St Mary's College in Trinidad and at University College, Oxford. He married in 1967 and had one son. His books include "Fireflies "(1970), which won the Jock Campbell New Statesman Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize and the Winifred Holtby Prize; "North of South" (1978), the story of his remarkable journey through Africa; "Black and White" (1980); "A Hot Country "(1983); and "Beyond the Dragon's Mouth: Stories and Pieces" (1984).

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