Like all of V. S. Naipaul's "travel" books, The Masque of Africa encompasses a much larger narrative and purpose: to judge the effects of belief (in indigenous animisms, the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam, the cults of leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of civilization.
"A sharply written and engrossing exploration of the effects of religious and spiritual belief on societies. Effective both as a vivid piece of travel writing and for its glimpses of belief in Africa." - Library Journal
"Ever fair-minded, soberly reflective, and conciliatory, Naipaul offers his sage observations in the hope that by learning more, we accept greater." - Publishers Weekly
"A work more narrative than reflective, but Naipaul's prose remains smooth, subtle, often silvery." - Kirkus
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V.S. Naipaul (Vidiadhar Surajprasad) was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad, on 17
August 1932, the eldest son of a second-generation Indian. He was educated at
Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, and, after winning a government scholarship, in
England at University College, Oxford. He worked briefly for the BBC as a writer
and editor for the 'Caribbean Voices' programme.
His first three books are comic portraits of Trinidadian society. The Mystic Masseur (1957) won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1958 and was adapted as a film with a screenplay by Caryl Phillips in 2001. Miguel Street (1959), a collection of short stories, won a Somerset Maugham Award. His acclaimed novel A House for Mr Biswas (1961), is based on his father's life in Trinidad. His first novel ...
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