Tomorrow, October 19, V. S. Naipaul will kick off the city’s JUST BUFFALO Babel Reading Series with a discussion of his early novel A House for Mr. Biswas at Kleinhans Music. For more on the series, which includes Maxime Hong Kinston, Edwidge Danticat and Nigerian writer Chris Abani, go to 2010/2011 Babel season.
Peter Carlini, of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Staff, described Naipaul’s book thus:
For anyone who has ever had a turbulent relationship with their in-laws, Mohun Biswas is a character you can certainly relate to. That’s not to say you’ll have anything else in common with this complex and, at times, contradicting protagonist of V.S. Naipaul’s classic novel A House for Mr. Biswas.
Born under a bad sign, Mr. Biswas is not exactly cherished by his family, with whom he lives in a tight-knit community in post-colonial Trinidad. This childhood is not improved by the death of his father and is converted into a similar adult life through his hasty marriage to Shama and her domineering family, the Tulsis. Having to share a roof with this large and often harsh extended family, Mr. Biswas strives for nothing more than a house to call his own.
An account of Mr. Biswas’ life from birth till death, the story can seem to drag on at times but is also masterfully written. Readers will get a vivid sense of life on this south Caribbean island during the mid-twentieth century and of the cultural conflicts that exist within immigrant communities.