Search this blog

Jun 18, 2003

Bend in the River & Catcher in the Rye

Just finished reading V.S.Naipaul's A Bend in the River, in record time, since somebody has already reserved this book at the library and I have to return it today. Maybe the sudden interest in Naipaul's writing, even in this so-faraway city, could have stemmed from his winning the Nobel Prize in 2001.

I never had a clear view of the real life Africa, Africa of the ordinary man and this book gives just that, although considered from the current time period, its a little old, its the sixties and the seventies Africa - a small town at the bend of a great river,which forms the setting for this novel. Equally informative is the way the author depicts how the immigrant communities of Indians and other Asians along with a few colonial leftovers from countries like Belgium,France etc cope up with the rise of new Africa, chaotic at its best.

It gave me a perspective on the newly independent African nations of the sixties and the seventies, their citizens trying to "Africanize" everything, the rampant corruption, the role of military in the development of those nations and amidst all that how the ordinary man survives. I wouldn't call it a great work of fiction, not amongst the ranks of Les Miserables or One Hundred Years of Solitude, but if you are interseted in learning about cultures, history and people in other parts of the world, this is a good book, well written, from a first person perspective, you'll feel like you are there.

Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield - Has any other name of a fictional character become more iconic than this one? I doubt. No other name is more popular than its creator (J.D.Salinger) All over America and maybe all over the world there are people who think they are really 'the' Holden of The Catcher in the Rye. Yeah, everyone knows the story of John Lennon's assasin having a copy of this book which inspired him to kill Lennon. After reading it I didn't think it was such an awe inspiring novel, considering all the 'awe' it has inspired throughout the years.

But I can very well see why so many people are inspired by Holden Caulfield, he was open about his contempt of the snobbish society around him, which most of the people living in a standardized, pre-frabricated world are unable to do. For all these people Holden is the mouthpiece of their suppressed souls. Being a teenager, justifies a lot of Holden's actions and thoughts. We realise more than fifty years later after Holden is supposed to have been teenager according to the novel, teenagers all over the world, behave more or less like Holden. Most of us did what he did, before the time we decided to be more prim, proper and learnt the ways of the world.