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Naipaul started his literary career writing comic novels set in Trinidad. Then he progressed to probing travel narratives. Recently, he published correspondence with his family (Between Father and Son: Family Letters, LJ 1/00). This slim volume, which contains two essays that originally appeared in 1999 in the New York Review of Books, traces his evolution as a writer. In the first essay, he reflects on the various literary influences and circumstances that shaped his career. In the second, he ruminates on what prevented him from writing a novel set in India, the land of his forebears. When he argues that "fiction works best in a confined moral and cultural area where the rules are generally known," Naipaul suggests that the heyday of the novel is long past. Naipaul writes with clarity, and his arguments are persuasive; one wishes that he had expanded further on his literary theories. Recommended for comprehensive collections of Naipaul's writings.DRavi Shenoy, North Central Coll. Lib., Naperville, IL
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Born and educated in Trinidad, V.S. Naipaul (b. 1932) settled in England after winning a scholarship to Oxford. The author of numerous successful novels including A House for Mr. Biswas and A Bend in the River, he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State, which explores the problems of nationality and personal identity. Political violence, homelessness, and alienation are recurrent themes in his novels. Naipaul's non fiction includes an Indian travel anthology and several political essays.