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20th Century House For Mr Biswas Paperback – Jan 4 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic; New edition edition (Jan. 4 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140186042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140186048
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,013,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A marvellous prose epic that matches the best 19th century novels' Newsweek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Naipaul has constructed a marvelous prose epic that matches the best nineteenth-century novels for richness of comic insight and final, tragic power."–Newsweek


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Nordstrom on Jan. 9 2003
Format: Hardcover
A House for Mr. Biswas was the fifth book of V.S. Naipaul's that I have read, and I think nicely punctuates the first phase of his oeuvre. In order, I read Between Father and Son, The Mystic Masseur, The Suffrage of Elvira, Miguel Street, and A House for Mr. Biswas; and now I am on to The Middle Passage. I recommend reading Between Father and Son before A House for Mr. Biswas because of the revealing nature of the former, the clearly autobiographical nature of the latter, and the added poignancy that comes from fully recognizing the aspirations and achievements of both the fictional and the real participants of Mr. Naipaul's life. While the other works are entertaining and offer insight into life in Trinidad, they are not critical in forming a complete appreciation for A House for Mr. Biswas. Naipaul's letters to and from his family during his time at Oxford clarify and qualify what he says later in his first mature work and longest novel.
A House for Mr. Biswas opens with the announcement of the death of our hero, and then traces his past though his youth, marriage, career, and the achievement of his lifelong dream-the acquisition of his own home. Mr. Biswas is representative of everyone who has struggled to identify themselves as an individual in a crowd. Having lived his life under the ostensible control of others, it is only in this final achievement of possessing a home that he truly becomes free. Naipaul's often acclaimed prose is readily evident in this fond portrayal of his father, and his often declaimed pessimism is nowhere to be found by this reader. Although Mr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Saro on Sept. 12 2009
Format: Paperback
During his 46 short years, Mr Biswas has always struggled to seek and define his sense of self but to no avail. A House for Mr Biswas is V.S. Naipaul's gripping and satirical tragicomedy of errors which is quite reminiscent of Gogol's portrait of harried and desperate characters. Early in life, Mr Biswas is proclaimed to be 'born the wrong way and thrust into a world that greeted him with little more than a bad omen' and shuffled from one frail and crumblng house to another, from one set of relations to another, always threatened with instability and ridicule. Hence, Mr Biswas has attempted to be self-sufficient, carve out a modest living, and shape his own destiny away from the cloying purse strings and meddling influence of his treacherous in-laws.

During my frenzied reading, I felt my literary sensibilities bursting with such fervour. As an ardent bookworm, I have always associated the art of reading with the will to live, the desire and willingness to savour life's bittersweet moments. Indeed, my reading hibernation ended with the gradual bloom of Spring. In fact, A House for Mr Biswas recalled to mind my Indiophile tendencies which had been laid to rest for quite some time. Through the sometimes comical, witty, and the quietly desperate Mohun Biswas, I found myself reclaiming something of myself. Indeed, the character of Mr Biswas felt like a kindred soul who, like me, has spent almost a lifetime carving out a distinct identity which struggles against calamitous and trivial events alike time and time again.
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Format: Paperback
A House For Mr. Biswas, the acclaimed novel by Nobel prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul, reads like an epic and is clearly the work of an accomplished writer. Naipaul's depiction of one man's life, beginning with his birth in rural Trinidad at which time he is labeled as "cursed" by the local holy man, is an extraordinary account of an ordinary man and his struggle to provide for his family. So why does this book, filled with beautiful prose, memorable characters, and heart-wrenching events, feel like it is about 200 pages too long?

Mohun Biswas, an ethnic-Indian born in Trinidad in the early 1900s, abruptly marries into the Tulsi family, and his life is from that point on dominated by his controlling mother-in-law, Mrs. Tulsi, and Seth, her brother and head of the Tulsi household. The Tulsi family provides him with housing and various jobs, ranging from managing their dry goods store to supervising their farm, but they also provide him with constant harassment and grief. Mr. Biswas longs for the day that he can own his own home, and his pursuit of this goal is the novel's persistent theme which gives it its epic quality.
A House For Mr. Biswas is, ultimately, a finely crafted novel. Naipaul's powerful, moving prose beautifully depicts the struggle, pain, and sorrow of one man's life; at the same time he paints a calm and full portrait of the ethnic-Indian experience in rural Trinidad. In many ways, this book does for rural Trinidad what John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath does for Salinas, California. It's only flaw, perhaps, is that the book's length feels somewhat forced, as if Naipaul believed that a 600-page novel would more powerfully depict his character's tragic nature than, say, a 400-page novel. The truth is that Naipaul's prose is so robust, and his characters so genuinely human, that A House For Mr. Biswas achieved the status of epic long before its final page.
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