V. S. Naipaul's Journeys

From Periphery to Center

Sanjay Krishnan

Columbia University Press

V. S. Naipaul's Journeys

Pub Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780231193320

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£30.00

Pub Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780231550253

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£30.00

V. S. Naipaul's Journeys

From Periphery to Center

Sanjay Krishnan

Columbia University Press

The author of more than thirty books of fiction and nonfiction and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, V. S. Naipaul (1932–2018) is one of the most acclaimed authors of the twentieth century. He is also one of the most controversial. Before settling in England, Naipaul grew up in Trinidad in an Indian immigrant community, and his depiction of colonized peoples has often been harshly judged by critics as unsympathetic, misguided, racist, and sexist. Yet other readers praise his work as containing uncommonly perceptive historical and psychological insight.

In V. S. Naipaul’s Journeys, Sanjay Krishnan offers new perspectives on the distinctiveness and power of Naipaul’s writing, as well as his shortcomings, trajectory, and complicated legacy. While recognizing the flaws and prejudices that shaped and limited Naipaul’s life and art, this book challenges the binaries that have dominated discussions of his writing. Krishnan reads Naipaul as self-subverting and self-critical, engaged in describing his own implication in what he saw as the malaise of the postcolonial world. Krishnan brings together close readings of major novels with considerations of Naipaul’s work as a united project, as well as nuanced assessments of Naipaul’s political commentary on ethnic nationalism and religious fundamentalism. Krishnan provides a Naipaul for contemporary times, illuminating how his life and work shed light on debates regarding migration, diversity, sectarianism, displacement, and other global challenges.
In V. S. Naipaul's Journeys, Sanjay Krishnan argues that Naipaul should be understood not as a reactionary critic of postcolonial cultures, but as someone who reported on them from the inside. Krishnan’s conclusions will be debated for a while to come, but his rigorous engagement with Naipaul’s oeuvre will reanimate the author for the next generation of critics. Suvir Kaul, author of Of Gardens and Graves: Kashmir, Poetry, Politics
Krishnan deftly navigates the ideological maelstrom that swirls around Naipaul’s reputation to deliver a fully grounded reappraisal of the relationship between the author’s work, his biography, and his political moment. This study sets new parameters for evaluating Naipaul's literary legacy. Rhonda Cobham-Sander, author of I and I: Epitaphs for the Self in the Work of V. S. Naipaul, Kamau Brathwaite, and Derek Walcott
Drawing heavily on archival materials made available only recently, V. S. Naipaul's Journeys: From Periphery to Center offers a defense and rereading of Naipaul by substantially reframing the objectives of his writing. Naipaul's work is unlike that of other postcolonial writers, contends Krishnan, in avoiding both easy position taking and the consolations of identity. Accessing Naipaul’s “ways of seeing,” Krishnan gives us a new, self-subverting Naipaul for the twenty-first century. Timothy Bewes, author of The Event of Postcolonial Shame
V. S. Naipaul's Journeys is an immensely valuable contribution. It is one of the best synthetic treatments of Naipaul's work available. It deftly blends a discussion of Naipaul's various journeys with Naipaul's own journey as a writer. It refocuses our attention on Naipaul's texts in order to reveal the development of his thinking. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Ashoka University
Krishnan’s jargon-free study will prove invaluable to serious readers and Naipaul scholars alike. Publishers Weekly
Introduction
I. Early Writings: 1955–1961
1. Memories of Underdevelopment
2. Self and Society
II. The Middle Period: 1962–1980
3. Historical Identities
4. Fantasy and Derangement
5. Ambiguous Freedom
6. Truth and Lie
III. Late Works: 1981–2010
7. Productive Deformation
8. Landscapes of the Mind
9. Conversations with the Faithful
Concluding Reflections
Notes
Index

About the Author

Sanjay Krishnan is associate professor of English at Boston University. He is the author of Reading the Global: Troubling Perspectives on Britain’s Empire in Asia (Columbia, 2007).