Download Half a Life: A Novel Audiobook

Half a Life: A Novel Audiobook, by V. S. Naipaul Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: V. S. Naipaul Narrator: Neil Shah Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2018 ISBN: 9781538555095
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In a narrative that moves with dreamlike swiftness from India to England to Africa, Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has produced his finest novel to date, a bleakly resonant study of the fraudulent bargains that make up an identity.

The son of a Brahmin ascetic and his lower-caste wife, Willie Chandran grows up sensing the hollowness at the core of his father’s self-denial and vowing to live more authentically. That search takes him to the immigrant and literary bohemias of 1950s London, to a facile and unsatisfying career as a writer, and at last to a decaying Portuguese colony in East Africa, where he finds a happiness he will then be compelled to betray. Brilliantly orchestrated, at once elegiac and devastating in its portraits of colonial grandeur and pretension, Half a Life represents the pinnacle of Naipaul’s career.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Naipaul is a master of English prose, and the prose of Half a Life is as clean and cold as a knife.”

    J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize–winning author

  • “As disquieting as anything [Naipaul] has ever written…His terse prose works, as always, to imply a world in a phrase.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “One of those rare books that stands as both a small masterpiece in its own right and as a potent distillation of the author’s work to date.”

    New York Times

  • “Naipaul’s style is so frank it seems intimate, and the awful characters are studied and well crafted…When Naipaul talks, we listen.”


  • “A masterpiece of implicitness…explicitly concerned with drawing out the metaphysical-private while keeping it embedded in society and history…The ironies in Half a Life wind like a fugue into infinity…Identity is an enigma…To make that sentiment breathe in the mouth of a living character, and then rise from the page with silent laughter, is a beautiful completion: the mark of a genius and a cause of unending delight.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “As sly and funny as anything Naipaul has written…Nobody who enjoys seeing English beautifully controlled should miss this novel.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “A surprise and a pleasure…here, at last, is a work of pure imagination, though the themes are characteristic in their complex peculiarity…In sentences of great precision and balance, Naipaul reanimates the dilemmas of the late and post-colonial experience…He reminds us again of what a fine and unusual writer he is.”

    Observer Review (London)

  • “One of the world’s greatest living novelists…Naipaul has thankfully lost none of his grace, style, or storytelling power in this beautiful novel.”

    Independent (London)

  • “A troubling novel, genuinely moving…disturbing in all the right ways…A stunning book, three continents, three journeys, the evergreen themes of caste and class, of growing up.”

    Miami Herald

  • “May tell us more about the essential Naipaul than he has ever heretofore revealed…The work of a master who has rarely, if ever, written better.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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About the Author

V. S. Naipaul (1932–2018) was the author of more than thirty books of fiction and nonfiction. His honors include the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Booker Prize, the Trinity Cross, and a knighthood for services to literature. He was named a finalist for the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for achievement in fiction. He was born in Trinidad in 1932 and went to Oxford on a scholarship in 1950.

About the Narrator

Neil Shah is an Audie-nominated narrator and winner of multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards who has recorded over 150 audiobooks. AudioFile magazine has commended him for “an absolutely mesmerizing listening experience” and as “an outstanding narrator who adds a healthy dose of personality to each of the characters.” As a classically trained actor with an MFA from the Old Globe/University of San Diego, he has appeared off Broadway and on regional stages, as well as in film and television. He records from his home studio in Portland, Oregon.