Curmudgeon on Safari

The Masque of Africa
Glimpses of African Belief
V. S. Naipaul
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, 256 pp.

Born in 1932 into a middle-class Indian family in colonial Trinidad, the novelist V. S. Naipaul began by writing about his home, then proceeded to the wide world beyond, where his investigations of the perplexities of selfhood amid the ruins of empire won him the Nobel Prize in 2001. Profoundly anti-idealistic, he seemed an unlikely Nobel winner, eschewing the liberationist enthusiasms of his fellow 1960s-era Caribbean writers in favor of a darkly mordant view of human possibility. The gloom...

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About the Author

Rand Richards Cooper, one of Commonweal's film critics, is the author of two works of fiction, The Last To Go and Big as Life.