An Area of Darkness: His Discovery of India

Front Cover
Pan Macmillan, Mar 22, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages

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. 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’ The Times

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User Review  - Larou - LibraryThing

This book (first published in 1964) has become somewhat notorious for its narrator’s rather negative attitude towards the country he is writing about. In the preface to the edition I read (from 2010 ... Read full review

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User Review  - cameling - LibraryThing

V.S. Naipaul has a genius for crafting the most beautiful stories. Part of his genius I think lies in his acute observatory skills. In this book, he travels to India, Kashmir and the Himalayas and his ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He came to England on a scholarship in 1950. He spent four years at University College, Oxford, and began to write, in London, in 1954. He pursued no other profession.

His novels include A House for Mr Biswas, The Mimic Men, Guerrillas, A Bend in the River, and The Enigma of Arrival. In 1971 he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State. His works of nonfiction, equally acclaimed, include Among the Believers, Beyond Belief, The Masque of Africa, and a trio of books about India: An Area of Darkness, India: A Wounded Civilization and India: A Million Mutinies Now.

In 1990, V.S. Naipaul received a knighthood for services to literature; in 1993, he was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. He lived with his wife Nadira and cat Augustus in Wiltshire, and died in 2018.