A TURN IN THE SOUTH by V.S. Naipaul
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A TURN IN THE SOUTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revealing, disturbing, elegiac journey with Naipaul (Finding the Center: Two Narratives, 1984; etc.) as he shows us America's Deep South through his own eyes--and southerners as they see themselves. The South that Naipaul sees everywhere carries the weight of history: the history of race relations, the history of family, the history of subjugation by the North. The first half of the narrative is given to race relations: travelling through Charleston, all-black Tuskegee University, all-white Forsythe County, Naipaul records the candid opinions of blacks and whites (not a cheery picture). Religion is a constant presence, and for many, black and white, a primary source of identity. For others, identity is rooted in family history and status: this is an intensely class-conscious society. Naipaul visits a vast new Nissan plant and an industrial catfish farm; considers "rednecks" (discussing them with, among others, Eudora Welty), and, in conversation with songwriter Bob McDill, the appeal of country music. A visit to Elvis' birthplace leads to an understanding of the "redneck" soul. Talks with a cross section of Church of Christ congregations say much, as does a visit with up-and-coming far-right politician ("Jessecrat") Barry McCarty. Naipaul concludes his journey with the remarkable Jim Apple-white, a poet with a powerful vision of the beauty of the disappearing tobacco-farming culture. Naipaul uses both the alien nature of what he sees and the resonances it creates with his own past in Trinidad to etch his impressions subtly and deeply: a powerful, permanent portrait of a unique culture.
Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1988
ISBN: 0679724885
Page count: 391pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1988




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