An Area of Darkness: His Discovery of India

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The first book in V. S. Naipaul?s acclaimed Indian trilogy ? with a preface by the author. An Area of Darkness is V. S. Naipaul?s semi-autobiographical account ? at once painful and hilarious, but always thoughtful and considered ? of his first visit to India, the land of his forebears.

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He was twenty-nine years old; he stayed for a year. From the moment of his inauspicious arrival in Prohibition-dry Bombay, bearing whisky and cheap brandy, he experienced a cultural estrangement from the subcontinent. It became for him a land of myths, an area of darkness closing up behind him as he travelled . . . The experience was not a pleasant one, but the pain the author suffered was creative rather than numbing, and engendered a masterful work of literature that provides a revelation both of India and of himself: a displaced person who paradoxically possesses a stronger sense of place than almost anyone. ?His narrative skill is spectacular. One returns with pleasure to the slow hand-in-hand revelations of both India and himself

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