A Bend in the River

  • by V.S. Naipaul
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this incandescent novel, V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man, an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.

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What the Critics Say

"A brilliant novel." (The New York Times)
"Confirms Naipaul's position as one of the best writers now at work." (Newsweek)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A flowing history from the heart of Africa

If you're interested in central and east Africa in general, and the DRC in particular, you've doubtless read 'Heart of Darkness', 'King Leopold's Ghost' and 'In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz'. Don't miss this classic novel, which provides an engrossing first-person account of the life of an Indian shopkeeper in the remote east of what was then called Zaire. The view through the eyes of a single shopkeeper makes a grand accompaniment to those other, broader texts. The story begins before the ascendancy of President Mobutu Sese-Seko, describes the initial excitement that his authoritative reign created - often overlooked by other commentators - then traces the collapse of the regime and the country into corrupt anarchy. The characters that appear along the way symbolise many of the major attitudes towards this abortive African renaissance - the naive academic credulously serving the Big Man, disappointed ex-pats sliding into bored debauchery, arrogant young students bitter as they realise the lies they have been told, the Africa-loving priest brought to a grisly end - and, of course, the foreign traders trying to live in two worlds to profit from it all, yet with the dreadful risk of losing everything hanging over them, a threat that adds real tension to the story.
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- Nigel

Tedious without redemption

I had such high hopes for this well regarded novel but those hopes were not well met. Simon Vance adopts an affectatious accent throughout which is irritating and relentless. The listening experience is further maligned by monotonous narrative offering very little relief. There is no story or momentum to the narrative at all. I often felt that I wished I was reading it, rather than listening to Vance witter on with his reading, in the hope that I would get more out of it. I persevered to the end, waiting for something to happen, in vain. Each listen felt like an endurance. Mr Naipul does paint a certain picture but he cannot tell a story and in A Bend in the River seemingly there is no actual tale to tell. My advice is to not listen to this version and read the book to try to get some depth from it instead.
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- Busy of Devon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 16-09-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.