Half an Autobiography

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I'm so dazzled by the richness of the world that I think fiction is not quite catching it," V.S. Naipaul said some years ago. The "it," his readers will recognize, is principally the postcolonial world, its tormented past and upheavals that Naipaul has spent most of his career chronicling. It is also what members of the Swedish Academy had in mind when they awarded him this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Naipaul's novels and reportage have helped shape our perceptions of places we hear about only when they are hit by civil wars and famines. His oblique stories about his journey...