Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents

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9780140281101: Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents

An intimate portrait of that rarest and most fragile of alliances, a literary friendship. In this personal account Theroux recalls his relationship with Vidia and how their positions were frequently reversed as they became each other's editors, confidants and teachers.

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Review:

Paul Theroux first met V.S. Naipaul, or Vidia to his friends, in Uganda in 1966. Theroux was an unknown writer, while the older Naipaul had already established a name for himself as the author of such classic novels as A House for Mr. Biswas. Their unlikely subsequent friendship stretched for more than 30 years and spanned five continents, as Theroux grew in literary stature, with novels such as The Mosquito Coast and travelogues including Riding the Iron Rooster, and Naipaul went on to secure, among other plaudits, the 1971 Booker Prize for his extraordinary collection In a Free State.

But then, in 1997, their friendship ended. Snubbed by Naipaul following a chance meeting on a London street, Theroux immediately realised that "his rejection of me meant I was on my own. He had freed me, he had opened my eyes, he had given me a subject." The result was Sir Vidia's Shadow, a humorous but often elegiac account of the cantankerous Naipaul, which often reads as much as an account of Theroux's own rise to artistic maturity as a literary memoir of Naipaul. Some of the finest sections of the book deal with Theroux's contrasting experiences to Africa compared with the patrician attitude of Naipaul, and his emergence as a literary figure in London--with the help of Naipaul.

At times, Sir Vidia's Shadow offers hilarious insights into Naipaul's bizarre and often offensive musings on politics, race and sex, and his selfish and single-minded belief that writing is the only thing that really matters. This is a fascinating book, made all the more intriguing by the nagging feeling that a deeper level of recrimination lies behind Theroux's account than he actually concedes. If Naipaul's rejection of Theroux allows him to become just another "subject", then how much difference is there in the end between the two writers? In the end, is this really a book about killing the literary father? Only time, and perhaps Naipaul's response, will tell. --Jerry Brotton

Review:

"A compact, provocative gem of a novel." Boston Globe"Vigorous and evocative . . . the kind of story you force yourself to savor slowly though you're dying to find out what happens next." The Washington Post"Both unputdownable and utterly engaging."Times Literary Supplement

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Paul Theroux
Published by Penguin (1999)
ISBN 10: 014028110X ISBN 13: 9780140281101
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Theroux, Paul
Published by Penguin 1999-01-01 (1999)
ISBN 10: 014028110X ISBN 13: 9780140281101
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
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Book Description Penguin 1999-01-01, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New Ed. 014028110X We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # TM-014028110X

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