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Extended Audio Sample A Bend in the River, by V. S. Naipaul Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,195 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: V. S. Naipaul Narrator: Simon Vanc Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This incandescent novel chronicles both an internal journey and a physical trek into the heart of Africa, a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions. Exploring political and individual corruption, it expresses skepticism about the ability of newly decolonized nations to forge independent identities.

Salim, a Muslim Indian merchant, opens a store in a sleepy small town at a bend in the river, whose inhabitants include a Belgian priest, a witch, and a white intellectual named Raymond. The president of the new country is a demagogue called the Big Man who hires Raymond as his speechwriter. Salim loses control of his store to the commercially inexperienced Citizen Theotime, who hires Salim to manage it. Gradually, the town's veneer of civilization begins to crumble.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Austere and brilliant…Naipaul has mastered the gift of creating an aura of psychic and moral tension…A novelist has to be faithful to what he sees, and few see as well as Naipaul.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In a vigilant style, which has been deservedly admired, [Naipul] transforms rage into precision and allows events to speak with their own inherent irony.”

    Swedish Academy, announcing the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature                     

  • “Confirms Naipaul’s position as one of the best writers now at work.”


  • “Vance delivers the detached ferocity that won Naipaul the Nobel Prize.”


  • One of Modern Library's 100 Best English-Language Novels of the Twentieth Century
  • A 1979 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Amy Lou | 2/20/2014

    " A beautifully crafted unraveling that moves perfectly slowly...just like Congo. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Eric | 2/4/2014

    " Naipaul is sexist, conservative, and may on some level support neo-colonialism. Or so say his many critics. Some of his later works and interviews certainly back up these claims. I chose, however, to read this book with a fresh perspective, outside of any external criticism and influence. What I found between these pages was one of the most hypnotic, harrowing stories I have ever read. An Indian man named Salim moves to a recently ravaged town in an unnamed African country (some say this takes place in what was Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in order to establish a new life for himself. Though damaged by a revolution, the town seems to be on the mend, and Samil is content to open a store and await the country's rebirth. What is later born, however, is something for which Samil and his compatriots are not prepared. The writing is stark yet fluid, moving the novel's events like a stream, into a river, into a rushing river, into a terrifying crescendo. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ashira | 1/27/2014

    " sad and beautiful. well worth the read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Marvin | 1/26/2014

    " I recognize this novel's quality for its depth & economical prose & its ability to bring to life daily life in contemporary Africa. Yet it somehow never fully engaged me; I plodded through it uninspired & recognizing that I was missing much of its meaning. "

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About the Author

V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932 and went to Oxford on a scholarship in 1950. He is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction and nonfiction. His honors include the Nobel Prize, the Booker Prize, and a knighthood for services to literature. He was named a finalist for the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for achievement in fiction. He lives in Wiltshire, England.