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£27.00

Pub Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780231550253

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.00

V. S. Naipaul's Journeys

From Periphery to Center

Sanjay Krishnan

Columbia University Press

The author of more than thirty books 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. Naipaul grew up in Trinidad in an Indian immigrant community, and his depiction of colonized peoples has often been harshly judged by postcolonial 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 rereads Naipaul’s work to offer new perspectives on his achievements, 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 restricted 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.
Drawing heavily on archival materials made available only recently, V. S. Naipaul: 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
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).