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A Writer's People: Ways of Looking and Feeling Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 29, 2008


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1ST edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375407383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375407383
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,787,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fascinating but not fully satisfying new book by Nobel prize-winner Naipaul is a curious collection. These five nonfiction pieces have no thematic through-line or argument, wandering instead through pockets of memoir, literary criticism, history and gossip. Naipaul is well-versed for this type of journey, as his past forays into fiction, travel writing and autobiography have proven, and his ability to thoroughly engage with both the stylistic flaws of Flaubert's novel Salammbô and an early biography of Gandhi within the space of a few pages is both illuminating and impressive. One of the loose organizing themes of the book is Naipaul's relationships with other writers and books, a subject on which he expounds fully and often with more than a touch of spite. In An English Way of Looking, on the British writer Anthony Powell, a good friend during Naipaul's early years in London, Naipaul criticizes Powell's writing unrelentingly, then paints extraordinarily unflattering portraits of Auberon Waugh and Phillip Larkin as punishment for their criticism of Powell. Nonetheless, Naipaul's latest offers an honest portrait of a major international writer's perspective from late in life. (May 5)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics have always, understandably, had a difficult time separating V. S. Naipaul’s personality from his work, and the author’s arrogance and solipsism often come under fire, particularly when he attacks fellow writers. For example, in an essay on fellow Nobel laureate and Trinidadian Derek Walcott, Naipaul questions his countryman’s recent output. As the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, however, Naipaul “blithely ignores the fact that the same point has been made about his own work.” A good measure of Naipaul’s genius with language might be the reason why, despite reviews sometimes savaging the author’s beliefs, critics nearly always find time to praise Naipaul’s writing, “effortless, without strain, clear, and authoritative” (Providence Journal). Although A Writer’s People will not be remembered as Naipaul’s best book, he clearly hasn’t lost his knack for drawing a crowd.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on December 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Certainly it is no secret that V.S. Naipaul has unsavory aspects to his personality. In this work, "A Writer's People," some of those traits are on display: the snobbishness, the egotism, the general myopia of things, events, moods, which are outside of Naipaul's purview, and therefore, to him, unimportant. But in the cavalcade of harsh judgments, it is easy to the pass over the essential fairness he attempts to exercise in his assessment of other writers. He is critical and dismissive of Walcott, but does not leave out the excitement this poet's work generated both for himself and for other Trinidadians in the 40's. He has nothing particularly good to say about Anthony Powell's work "A Dance to the Music of Time," but he is generous to the man, his easy stance as a writer, and his semi-admiration for his "collection" of people so much like a literary endeavor in its meticulousness.

This collection of essays, although a bit disorganized in the flow of ideas, show how strong a writer Naipaul continues to be: witty, incisive, stern, humorous, Naipaul is still a writer of great subtly and dexterity. Here, writing about writing, he still has new things to say.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Muhammad A. Quddus on June 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was not going to write the review but the passion of a fellow reviewer compels me to say a few words. The reviewer had expected humility and dignity from the writer. If the reviwer wishes to see those attributes, why not pick up other books or watch politicians. I thought Mr.Naipaul's most recent book is one of the most amazing book I have ever came across. The book contains a theme: "what is history, what is disaster and what is civilization." This has been the writer Naipaul's preoccupation. He does not write to belittle others or settle some score. Anyone could do it. A reader expects more from a writer of great imagination. He see so much and feel so much. In fact the writer teaches the reader how to be aware of the world around. Reading all his books has been one of my best experience so far.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on February 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This small book contains some information about the struggling beginnings of the author as a BBC part-timer and a book reviewer, and also about the writers - as a writer or as a person (A. Powell) - who had a certain influence on his writing career.
V.S. Naipaul wants to show us the real vision (the feeling and seeing) of an author in his work. However, his book says more about the treatments of (historical) events (like his comparison between Polybius and Flaubert's Salammbô or Julius Caesar's biased view), of simply daily life acts (Virgil's Moretum), of moods (D. Walcott's St. Lucia, his own on Trinidad) and of Indian history (the autobiographies of Gandhi, Nehru or N. Chaudhuri).
Writing is indeed a product of a specific historical and cultural vision, but it should in the first place reflect the author's vision on general human problems.

This is a minor book by a great writer. Only for V.S. Naipaul fans.

N.B. This book has no index.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Born in Trinidad of Indian descent and educated in England, V. S. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. In A Writer's People, he is concerned with the process of cultural assimilation--of fitting one civilization to another--and the nature of good writing.

"My purpose in this book," he writes, "is not literary criticism or biography. . . . I wish only, and in a personal way, to set out the writing to which I was exposed during my career. I say writing, but I mean more specifically vision, a way of seeing and feeling." Nevertheless, there is much literary criticism and biography in this work.

Juxtaposing various authors, Naipaul shows how some are burdened with prejudicial "fixed ideas," and how others have broken free of such constraints to face honestly, with open eyes, our place in a changing world.

Naipaul's far-ranging interests include critiques of Derek Walcott, Francis Wyndham, Anthony Powell, Gustave Flaubert, Juulius Caesar, Virgil, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharhal Nehru, and many others.

The elegant prose and thoughtful content of A Writer's People reveals Naipaul to be a champion of a high culture that is both erudite and realistic, exalted yet down to earth.

About the author: V. S. Naipaul was born in 1932 in Trinidad, an island seven miles off the coast of Venezuela. 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. In 1990 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and in 2001 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1971, Naipaul became the first person of Indian origin to win a Booker Prize for his book In a Free State. In awarding Naipaul the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. P. Garland on June 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book very disappointing and would not recommend it.
V.S. Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, indicates that this book is not meant as a literary criticism or biography. In fact, I found the opposite. He is very critical of authors' works, and often sickeningly condescending. In places, he seems to be apologizing for having favored authors' works in his past, but having seen the obvious shortcomings of these works, he takes us on a laborious, rather self-serving, journey into how he grew to see the light.
I found him so utterly annoying that I tore the book up after reading it on the plane, just in case someone else had the misfortune to pick it up and read it.
He is a Nobel Prize winner, and I (perhaps naively) expected a little more humility and dignity from V.S. Naipaul.
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