I’d heard so much about this book and its author that I was almost disgusted with myself that I had not read it before. A friend even reminded me recently that it was one of the novels we could have studied as a precursor to our O’ Levels. (I chose To the Lighthouse and A Passage to India instead).
Last summer I read Blood River by Tim Butcher and this was one of the novels he cited as having read on the journey to better inform his literary understanding of the Congo. So, I put it on my list and, having read The Poisonwood Bible and re-read Heart of Darkness, I purchased this too. I had high hopes but I have to say that they were not really fulfilled.
I can see that Naipaul is a very talented writer and the subject matter is compelling but after admitting this, I must part ways with critical opinion. I feel as though I should be ashamed to say it, but I was bored with it before the end. I lost interest in whether Salim made a success of the shop or not; and even whether he made it safely out of the country.
The historical aspect was thought-provoking but the narrative did not live up to my expectations.