A novel of colonialism and revolution, death, sexual violence and political and spiritual impotence.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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.
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.Read more ›