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In a Free State (1971)

por V. S. Naipaul

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MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
9842115,920 (3.37)115
"In A Free State" is set in an imaginary state in Africa against a background of civil conflict. The book travels from America to London to Africa. The first third focuses on the fortunes of Santosh, a young Indian servant, at the mercy of this dreams, of his employers and of the countries in which he is plunged. It then moves into the world of expats in Africa, of government officers and radio people, attempting to understand the country they have found themselves in, to match their ideas to reality. And as always, in the background the threat of violence looms. The voices in this novel are breathtakingly vivid, the feelings of the characters portrayed with an intelligence and sensitivity that is rarely seen in contemporary writing.… (mais)
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Inglês (19)  Hebraico (1)  Francês (1)  Todas as línguas (21)
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A gay English aid worker and the wife of a colleague return home from a conference in the capital of an unnamed African country by road - a trip that takes two days during a time of political upheaval.

Unless you are particularly interested in descriptions of African scenery, I wouldn't bother. It turns out this is a novella from a book of thematically linked short stories. I don't know if reading the whole thing would have improved my appreciation. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Mar 26, 2021 |
> Ce recueil de nouvelles s'avère une très belle leçon de vie. Pas foncièrement optimiste. Lucide et clairvoyante. --Danieljean (Babelio)

> Citations et Extraits (Babelio) : https://www.babelio.com/livres/Naipaul-Dis-moi-qui-tuer/115305#citations ( )
  Joop-le-philosophe | Feb 20, 2021 |
I enjoyed this novel by V.S. Naipaul, published 1971 and winner of the 1971 Booker and the Nobel prize winner in literature. It is really unique in its structure for 1971. Written with prologue and epilogue that book ends the 3 short stories between (supporting narratives). The book examines the experience of displacement. This book starts with a prologue of a narrator who is on the ferry to Egypt and ends with an epilogue that has the narrator returning to Egypt as a visitor. These were taken from the author's own travel journals. See https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/02/20/rereading-v-s-naipauls-free-state...
I found it very interesting to read this article and it made my experience of reading the book a better experience. Naipaul catches the experience of displacement but he also does the same with the changing climate of colonialism.
The three supporting narratives
#1: "One out of Many", Santosh, an Indian servant in Washington DC
#2: "Tell Me Who To Kill", narrated by a poor and poorly educated Indian Trinidadian in London
#3: "In a Free State", third-person narrative about a long car journey undertaken by two English people, Bobby and Linda, across an unnamed East African country. There is quite a bit of tension as storm clouds are brewing.
Naipaul traveled through Africa in 1966 and was basically homeless from 1966 to 1971. He lived in Scotland, London, Canada, the United States, Gloucester. His own unique experiences have given life to his writings. This book did deserve the Booker, the author did merit the Nobel award. I do recommend this article if you are going to read Naipaul. ( )
  Kristelh | Jan 4, 2021 |
I'm reading all the Booker Prize winners from 1969 onward. Follow me at: http://www.methodtohermadness.com

I thought V.S. Naipaul’s In a Free State would be a quick read. It consists of two short stories and a novella, bookended by two travel anecdotes. This is the fourth Booker Prize winner, and the third to explicitly address British colonialism. I loved the first story. I puzzled over the second. And I struggled through the third.

The first story, “One out of Many,” is about an Indian domestic, Santosh, who accompanies his employer, a government official, from Bombay to Washington, D.C. His debacle of an airplane trip seems to include every possible thing that could go wrong for a poor and naïve traveler on his first long voyage. Once in the U.S., Santosh progresses through several stages: brave exploration, frightened sequestration, fleeing his employer, finding a new one. He is “in a free state,” but this freedom is more frightening than exhilarating, a leap into the void without a safety net. I sympathized with the character’s adjustments and felt that this story did an excellent job distilling the immigrant experience into just forty pages.

The second story, “Tell Me Who to Kill,” sums up one facet of the immigrant experience this way: “ambition is like shame,” that is, trying to rise “above” your origins implies that you are ashamed of them. The title expresses the main character’s frustration with being an island immigrant in London, and lack of target for his feelings. “Once you find out who the enemy is, you can kill him. But these people here they confuse me. Who hurt me? Who spoil my life?” This story left me scratching my head: is the main character’s companion just a friend, or are they gay? And what about the repeated murder sequence: is it a memory, a dream, or a scene from a movie? No way to know for sure.

Finally, the title novella. Two white government employees travel through an unnamed African nation in turmoil: the president’s tribe is out to kill the former king. Similar to J.G. Farrell’s Troubles, the main character, Bobby, vacillates between sympathy for the natives and frustration with them, while confronting another character, Linda, who seems primarily scornful of them. Both Farrell and Naipaul seem to agree that the role of the British is to let the natives figure out their path for themselves. However, I felt the story dragged on and went over my head in places. It seemed like a series of “in jokes” that maybe only readers of the time or expats in Africa could understand. ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
Sometimes when I rate a book three stars, it is because the book is good but doesn’t make it to very good or great. But on a positive note, it is consistently good. In other cases, a book gets three stars because it is great in places and in other places, I really struggle with it. This book falls into the second category. The book is made up of two “short” short stories or vignettes, the Prologue and Epilogue, two short stories of decent length, One Out of Many and Tell Me Who to Kill, and finally a short novel, In a Free State. Each of these pieces describes one or more individuals residing, sometimes temporarily sometimes permanently, in a foreign culture, their adaptation or failure to adapt to that culture and their conflicts and the conflicts they encounter within the culture. What was truly impressive to me about the writing, and this was my first by V.S. Naipaul, was that each described a different part of the world, a different culture and different conflicts.

The Prologue and Epilogue, although they didn’t feel like true short stories, were very good. The Prologue focuses on a boat trip to Egypt; the Epilogue describes a short tourist visit in Egypt. One Out of Many, the first of the true short stories, was the gem. It was a precursor, at least based on when it was written, to some of the stories I have read of immigrants adapting to a new culture, particularly the United States. The Namesake by Jhumpi Lahari and A Free Life by Ha Jin come to mind. In One Out of Many, I often found myself laughing but then realizing it was no laughing matter for Santosh, an Indian domestic who travels to Washington D.C. with his boss. This story also brings to the forefront racial prejudice in ways with which I was not familiar. Tell Me Who to Kill is the story of an older brother who sacrifices his future to help his younger brother. While it has strong points, it felt like it lost its way to me. Finally, the novel In a Free State provides an excellent description of an African nation struggling with its recent freedom and the attendant clashes of various races and nationalities, but the two main characters generated no strong feelings in me and I found most of the story tedious.

Overall, I was disappointed in the inconsistency of what I read, but this was my first V.S. Naipaul and given some of the high points, I intend to try something else of his. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Naipaul, V. S.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Golüke, GuidoTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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"In A Free State" is set in an imaginary state in Africa against a background of civil conflict. The book travels from America to London to Africa. The first third focuses on the fortunes of Santosh, a young Indian servant, at the mercy of this dreams, of his employers and of the countries in which he is plunged. It then moves into the world of expats in Africa, of government officers and radio people, attempting to understand the country they have found themselves in, to match their ideas to reality. And as always, in the background the threat of violence looms. The voices in this novel are breathtakingly vivid, the feelings of the characters portrayed with an intelligence and sensitivity that is rarely seen in contemporary writing.

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