India - A Million Mutinies Now

After reading India - A Wounded Civilization, I developed a keen inclination or curiosity, as you may call it, to read the third and final installment of V S Naipaul's trilogy. As observed in the previous book, there was a considerable amount of bitterness, to put it mildly, in Naipaul's writing. So much bitterness that sometimes the reader was pushed to thinking that Naipaul is prejudiced and the book and his knowledge of India is just an outlet for that froth. As someone told me today "Naipaul survives on India bashing". I do not think I am knowledgeable enough to comment on that. So let me talk about the extant book under consideration.

To start with the author has toned down, "noticeably". I am still reading the book, but there are some stark differences that I notice in his approach. For one, there is less of his own commentary on events, incidents and characters, which inundated "A Million Mutinies Now". Here he goes around India (only Mumbai for the first one-fourth of the book) with the help of a local person. He writes about the person and his lineage, his belongings, his beliefs and his aspirations. Through these persons he meets many others and writes about them too. Needless to say, each has a unique story to tell. But then as observed, there is less of his own take resulting in more freedom to the user. Maybe this is what Naipaul wants. When you criticize someone's country, he turns defensive, but leave it to him and he will more often than not vouch for the very same points. Naipaul has described every scene vividly not missing out on even the minutest of details. This may be a treat for the foreign readers who may not well acquainted with Indian surroundings or people. Though I may warn you that
for many, it may be a case of "Tell me something new !"

My opinion: Worth a read.

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