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The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief (Vintage International) Paperback – October 4, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Engaging. . . . Naipaul’s latest African journey is eyewitness reporting at its best.”
Time

“Beautiful and humane. . . . The idea that underpins it is so basic that it achieves a kind of majesty.”
Harper’s Magazine

“Neither a romantic’s nor an anthropologist’s tale. It is a collection of voices that make sense only in relation to one another. . . . What’s important is what’s being said. . . . [Naipaul’s is a] brilliant and elastic mind.”
The New York Times Book Review
 
“With extraordinary sensitivity, Naipaul registers the beauty of [African] traditions but also captures their cruelty.”
Bookforum
 
“One of Naipaul’s most stirring books. . . . [He] combines the objectivity of a disaster photographer and an understanding of history.”
The Independent (London)

About the Author

V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at University College, Oxford, he began to write, and since then has followed no other profession. He has published thirty books of fiction and nonfiction, including A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River, A Turn in the South and a collection of letters, Between Father and Son. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307454991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307454997
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I couldn't wait for V.S. Naipaul's "The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief" to come out. Naipaul is one of my favorite writers. In his amazing A House for Mr. Biswas, he describes the post-colonial experience, my post-colonial experience, the way nobody else knows how to do. Naipaul is hated by many for his condescension, his nasty personality, his male chauvinism. He is even more hated for refusing to participate in the facile celebration of national independence and an even more simplistic condemnation of the empire. Any search for one's "authentic" self, as Naipaul demonstrates time and again, is a farce. Any "return to one's roots" is silly. Naipaul's honesty about his painful and complex relationship with the Empire has garnered him many enemies. His impeccable style has angered those willing to dismiss him as a quack who only got his Nobel Prize for political reasons.

Many of those who enjoy Naipaul's novels have found his travel books unpalatable. His India: A Wounded Civilization makes many of his reader fume with rage. I have no doubt that the same will be true for The Masque of Africa. Since I don't know as much as I would like about either India or Africa, I always prefer to read Naipaul's travel books in terms of what the writer is telling me about himself and his creative journey in these books, rather than what he has to say about the places he visits.

Overall, I think the book is a failure. "Against that ordinariness, which consumed everything, there was no defense", says Naipaul about modern-day Kampala almost at the beginning of the book. This statement defines, in my opinion, the general mood of the book. Naipaul never warms to his subject. He lists the things he saw in Africa without offering the profound analysis he is capable of.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book certainly did not make me want to visit Africa. It is a curious book - Naipaul seems to make no attempt to digest his experiences or lace them in context. He simply records them in a semi- detached manner. Thus it is difficult to know how representative they are. Many are clearly distasteful. I can't say that I enjoyed reading the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very well written book which gets inside African history, politics, religion, and spirituality. It's quite an interesting juxtaposition of topic matter which this avid reader on all things Africa loved! It read a bit slow at times but a great read overall.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Perfect formatting, a pleasure to read. Thank you Knopf.

Thank you also for lowering the price to $9.99 -- more than enough for everyone to make a nice profit.
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