Books: Native Grounds

LOVE AND DEATH IN A HOT COUNTRY by Shiva Naipaul Viking; 185 pages; $14.95

The setting is the fictitious country Cuyama, "a tract of land perched uneasily on the sloping shoulder of South America, a degree or two north of the Equator." Aubrey St. Pierre, whose once illustrious family grew wealthy with the aid of sugar-cane plantations and slave labor, harbors guilt and runs a bookstore; the Cuyamese citizens, whose culture he hopes to elevate, stay away in droves. Aubrey's wife Dina broods on her mixed Hindustani and Portuguese origins and roundly hates her native grounds: "Nothing worthwhile had ever been created...

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