20th Century House For Mr Biswas Paperback – Feb 1 1993
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"Naipaul has constructed a marvelous prose epic that matches the best nineteenth-century novels for richness of comic insight and final, tragic power."–Newsweek --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
The early masterpiece of V. S. Naipaul's brilliant career, A House for Mr. Biswas" is an unforgettable story inspired by Naipaul's father that has been hailed as one of the twentieth century's finest novels.
In his forty-six short years, Mr. Mohun Biswas has been fighting against destiny to achieve some semblance of independence, only to face a lifetime of calamity. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning death of his father, for which he is inadvertently responsible, Mr. Biswas yearns for a place he can call home. But when he marries into the domineering Tulsi family on whom he indignantly becomes dependent, Mr. Biswas embarks on an arduous-and endless-struggle to weaken their hold over him and purchase a house of his own. A heartrending, dark comedy of manners, A House for Mr. Biswas masterfully evokes a man's quest for autonomy against an emblematic post-colonial canvas. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Using an unreliable and not completely likeable but nonetheless sympathetic narrator to offer a critique and insights into the daily lives, nuances and reality of complex family... Read morePublished on April 29 2013 by pragmatic consumer
You can click on my "about me" icon and see that I don't shy away from heavier literature. And I really, really wanted this novel to work for me. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2002 by Stacey Cochran
I'd always gone along with the bias against Naipaul due to his conservative, some would say neocolonial, politics. Big mistake. Read morePublished on May 12 2002 by Tony Thomas
This book defines "engaging". Though I have never been to Trinidad, I now feel like I've spent significant time there. Read morePublished on March 9 2002 by greglor
Despite the tears, nobody ever says this thoughout this long, fascinating book. A story of generations, of family dispute and disparity, A House For Mr. Read morePublished on March 5 2002 by asphlex
This was VS Naipaul's break-out book, although it took a few years for it to really take off, first in England, and then everywhere else. Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2002 by Ryan
A House for Mr. Biswas, is not so much the story of Mr. Biswas, but of the South Asian extended family - its turmoil, gossip, reunions and joys. Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2002
i went though an "indian author" stage and mr. biswas was one of my favorites...i could actually smell the deteriorating paint on the house, it's dreams, the human sweat... Read morePublished on Dec 30 2001
This book is deservedly regarded as the new Nobel laureate's masterpiece. It is tells the life story of Mr. Mohun Biswas, a Hindu born in rural Trinidad. Mr. Read morePublished on Dec 28 2001 by suetonius