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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Don't forget Shiva

From the midst of the flood of Naipaul-biography coverage, Nilanjana S. Roy reminds us, in the pages of the India Business Standard, about "The Other Naipaul Boy"--V.S.'s brother Shiva:

I remember The Fireflies and The Chip-Chip Gatherers as well-turned but slight novels, and the passage of years has preserved them well without transmuting them into classics. Both were set in Trinidad; for both Naipauls, the island that one sought to escape and the other sought to explore was a necessary source of material. The Fireflies offered a haunting image to set against the plight of those who couldn’t get away: fireflies trapped in a bottle, casting a beautiful light, but unable to find an escape. The Chip-Chip Gatherers has often been compared to V S Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas, to its detriment. It is clear from both novels, though, that Shiva had a way of seeing that was very much his own, and a fascination with the politics of identity that would never leave him.

(Small quibble--that should be Fireflies, no definite article....)

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