A Bend In The River
By V.S. Naipaul
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A Bend In The River by V.S. Naipaul ranked # 83 on The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels list as selected by its Board Members.
A Bend in the River is a 1979 novel by Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul.
Set in an unnamed African country after independence, the book is narrated by Salim, an ethnically Indian Muslim and a shopkeeper in a small, growing city in the country's remote interior.
Though born and raised in another country in a more cosmopolitan city on the coast (likely Mombasa) during the colonial period, as neither European nor fully African, Salim observes the rapid changes in his homeland with an outsider's distance.
Although Salim never identifies the country where he lives, the events closely parallel the Belgian Congo's transformation into Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko (the novel's "Big Man") - with the unnamed city in which the novel is set having some similarity with the Zairean river port of Kisangani. Others see a resonance with Idi Amin's Uganda.
The first sentence of the book is considered emblematic of Naipaul's world view: "The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it."
A Bend in the River was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1979.
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