IN A FREE STATE by V.S. Naipaul

IN A FREE STATE

A Novel
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A book of three novellas of similar theme strung between two excerpts from the author's travel journal, whose failures are similar to those of its exiled characters -- expatriates in countries where the language is never known quite well enough, where customs are followed rather than understood. The Indian who marries a black cook to gain U.S. citizenship in "One Out of Many," the West Indian who becomes a "dead man" to his family rather than admit trouble in London in "Tell Me Who to Kill," and the homosexual English bureaucrat of the title story caught in the throes of an African revolution all find that geographical displacement has more to do with escape than freedom. The author (an Indian who writes in English) is most successful when dealing with his countrymen, either among themselves or in their hit-and-miss relationships with the English or Americans. The travel journal excerpts seem an irrelevant and slightly arbitrary "frame" for stories lost in the never-neverland between allegory and reality, which don't quite explode with the momentous themes they always seem on the verge of revealing.
Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1971
ISBN: 1400030552
Page count: 257pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1971




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