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Guerrillas [Hardcover]

V. S. Naipaul
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1997 0844669105 978-0844669106
A novel of colonialism and revolution, death, sexual violence and political and spiritual impotence.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review

“A Tolstoyan spirit.... The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist.” — John Updike

“Naipaul is a master of English prose.” — J. M. Coetzee, New York Review of Books

“V. S. Naipaul has a substantial claim as a comic writer.... This humor, conducted throughout with the utmost stylistic quietude, is completely original.” — Kingsley Amis, The Spectator

“Mr. Naipaul travels with the artist’s eye and ear and his observations are sharply discerning.” — Evelyn Waugh

“For sheer abundance of talent there can hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V. S. Naipaul. [He is] the world’s writer, a master of language and perception.” — The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

“A Tolstoyan spirit.... The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist.” — John Updike

“Naipaul is a master of English prose.” — J. M. Coetzee, New York Review of Books

“V. S. Naipaul has a substantial claim as a comic writer.... This humor, conducted throughout with the utmost stylistic quietude, is completely original.” — Kingsley Amis, The Spectator

“Mr. Naipaul travels with the artist’s eye and ear and his observations are sharply discerning.” — Evelyn Waugh

“For sheer abundance of talent there can hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V. S. Naipaul. [He is] the world’s writer, a master of language and perception.” — The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm a fan of Naipaul's but I didn't like this book March 11 2002
Format:Paperback
I came back to this novel after giving up on it after the first chapter a few years ago. I have read Naipaul's non-fiction account of the Michael X murders in Trinidad in his "The Killings in Trinidad." The book fictionalizes the story of murders committed at a black-power commune led by Michael X, a former pimp and accused rapist who returned to his native Trinidad in the early 1970's after living in England for many years.
The novel is very dark and grim with a sense of doom and gloom permeating the lives of all the characters. There is not one likable character. Naipaul takes pains to imply that the book is not set in Trinidad even though the actual events did occur there. This Trinidad is very different from the folksy Dickensian Trinidad of A House for Mr. Biswas and The Mystic Masseur. The Trinidad he describes in this book is a dreadful place ready to explode with civil war and racial violence. The wealthy and mostly white live in fear in exclusive enclaves in mortal fear of their own servants. The underclass blacks live in slums seething with barely suppressed violence.
The atmosphere of fear is well described but it unfortunately does not make this an enjoyable book. There were several stylistics touches that I found especially irritating. A very representative example is at the very end of the book. Jimmy Ahmed is the Michael X character. Near the end of the book there is a sex scene between Jimmy and Jane, the visiting British hipster. This sex scene becomes a rape scene. Just before Jimmy sodomizes Jane, ... he forcefully kisses her, forcing her mouth open and spitting into her mouth while repeatedly saying, "love, love." I can only interpret this as an inability on Naipaul's part to write sex scenes.
Scenes such as this leave the reader with a bad taste in his mouth. Avoid unless you feel you must read every word the great man has written.
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Format:Paperback
Those who have read Naipaul's relatively more famous 'A Bend in the River', should remember that when Indar the professor took his childhood friend Salim to a party at historian Raymond's house Joan Baize's excellent songs on injustice and 'end of the world'(from nuclear threat) were being played. Salim knew for sure that those were make believe. He felt that only those who got justice most of the times and are expecting to get it as before could sing such sweet songs on injustice. Those who knew that the world would go on and they were safe in it were likely to sing such songs on the end of the world. Naipaul never believed in a hasty, romantic and adventurous way of improvemrnt that has been the vision of revolution among the guerrillas. His mantra has been continuous self-assessment. That is why Peter and not Jimmy Ahmed, is the hero in a novel with such an explosive title. Jimmy's diary that he writes time to time in the form of a letter clearly betrays his self- congratulatory narcissism only which, sadly enough, sustains him as a guerrilla. Then Meredith plays the game at the lawn of De Tunja. He asks De Tunja to describe an ideal day for himself but through a piece of paper written beforehand, shows Peter's adventure loving wife that men can not really think of much change at a time, as Tunja describes more or less an usual day. The woman is enraged. The story ends in total breakdown of faith and credibility among the revolutionaries. Naipaul's strength is in the balance of treatment that neither makes villains out of the revolutionaries nor does it ridicule them. This is a kind of novel which is not for the reader with passing interest in politics.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Analyses of Guerrilla Feb. 11 2002
By Joseph
Format:Paperback
Analyses of V.S. Naipaul's Guerillas
V.S. Naipaul's novel, Guerillas tells the story of Peter Roche, a South African resistance fighter, his mistress Jane, and a revolutionary leader Jimmy Ahmed. The book unfolds on a former British colony in the Caribbean during the 1970's. This Island is inhabited with Asians, Africans, Americans and former British colonials. Racial and economic tensions are ever present and the islanders are said to "coexist in hysteria." Peter Roche has made his way to the island to "work," while his mistress, Jane, has come along to join Peter for her own reasons. From Jane's point of view, initially, Peter was a doer and had a cause. He was saint-like and gentle. However as the novel progressed, she began to see Peter in a different light. Furthermore, from his own perspective, Peter was a failure, and inadequate in the eyes of Jane, who he grew to seek approval from. It was Jane's ultimate rejection of Peter via her sexual indecencies that enabled Peter, in an attempt to salvage his pride, to overlook the forced sodemy and murder of his wife by Jimmy Ahmed.
Peter Roche was a South African freedom fighter. Though he was white, he readily fought for the black man and even risked his life for apartheid. He authored a book about his experiences in South Africa. He was tortured by the South African government and was asked to recount his memoirs in a book. It was under these pretences that he had met his mistress Jane. She was in the publishing business and used his book as an excuse to get to know him. Jane was portrayed as a character that lived through her men. She seemed incomplete without a man. Further, it seemed as if she was searching for a rich, powerful, handsome man that could finance her life and make her a complete person.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A la Dostoevsky
Pair this sometimes graphic novel with Dostovesky's Demons (The Possessed, The Devils) -- dramatic exposures of the association of privileged but sick-souled fellow travelers with... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2003 by Extollager
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much of tedium
The novel makes for tough reading. The author goes on and on with his descriptions with a laboured writing style which could be avoided. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2002 by kissinger65
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Novel Of Sex and Politics
V. S. Naipaul is unquestionably one of the finest writers in the English language; I am not surprised he recently won the Nobel Prize. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2001 by John Kwok
3.0 out of 5 stars severity
of course after winning the nobel prize i sought out v.s. naipaul. yet this book left me feeling terribly disappointed. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars death in obscurity
This is a horrible story, one of many that Naipaul has written. However, he usually covers political or social violence, with its chilling though unpredictable inevitability, as a... Read more
Published on May 10 2001 by Robert J. Crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but Unpleasant
Naipaul is an excellent writer. Most of the descriptions are evocative, if depressing, the dialogue rings true, and the characters, for all their unpleasantness, are believable. Read more
Published on June 3 2000 by Jim McKenna
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful depiction of social and moral breakdown....
Having just finished reading GUERRILLAS, I surfed over to read what others thought. The other reviews left me somewhat staggered and altogether bewildered. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 1999 by misterjive@home.com
3.0 out of 5 stars A tale of violence and cruelty
I was keen to check out V S Naipaul. His declared masterpiece, "A House for Mr Biswas", seemed the natural place to start but its length put me off. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars It isn't my favorite Naipaul novel
I have to admit that I was rather disappointed when I read "Guerrillas". V.S. Naipaul is one of my favorite writers of all time, but I didn't care for this particular... Read more
Published on June 10 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars An action filled adventure about Guerilla war
What can i say... it was the best book i ever read since i moved to America. As a native i think it represents our culture and heritage as no other book could. Read more
Published on March 24 1999
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