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On an unnamed Caribbean Island, political tensions provoked by race and poverty are high. Jimmy Ahmed, a young mixed-race man, has been hailed as a revolutionary leader of the people. Roche, imprisoned for activities against South Africa's apartheid regime, and Jane, a feckless English rich girl wanting to feel a part of something bigger, get sucked into the turmoil and world of Ahmed. But does anyone achieve anything by causing unrest? Do any of them really want freedom in a new society or just the old society with themselves at the helm of power?
Written in the politically turbulent 1970s, Guerrillas takes aim at the sacred cows and myths of revolutionaries - how so many of them "huff and puff", knowing that the house will never blow down. From the safest places come the bravest words.
Naipaul's bleak tale also takes aim at flaws in Marxist and revolutionary ideology - at the idea that one can predict or manipulate how the "revolution" will turn out. His characters are lost souls trying to navigate a postcolonial world where racism, classism, and conflicting ideals create a festering unrest that no one knows how to fix.
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Reactionary Islamophobia 101
First, I'd like to commend the reader. Beautiful work by Ron Butler, who I've listened to before and was just as impressed.
VS Naipaul, however, is one of the most stunningly typical selections for so-called liberal awards committees to elevate. He weaves wondrous prose around his personal views, packages them in a basic, but meandering plot, and sends it at you with an accosting flair. That might sound like a great book. Because, on a technical level, it is skillful craft.
But the context and content cannot be ignored by a conscious audience. The atavism at the heart of the novel is this: Humans are animals, colonization is our nature, and certain races and ideologies are doomed to pursue the wrong methods to accomplish that nature. Blacks rape. Muslims murder. Women seek out violence upon themselves. Rejecting these self-evident truths is either the self-delusion of victor's remorse or the Munchausen's syndrome of the conquered. That is the world of VS Naipaul. That is the thematic propulsion of the novel and, while I'm sure plenty will say "You dont know that, its really about the evils of colonialism," I don't need to dredge up the ugly quotes and he-said/she-said's of Naipaul to prove my point. My good friend Google can do that for you.
Avoid except for dissection and study. But remember, reactionary writing doesn't deserve or need to be bought to be read. If you're looking for colonial writing that is actually good and not just award fodder that the award-giver is too afraid to either criticize or admit they agree, go with Aunt Julia & the Scriptwriter by Vargas, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, A Sister to Scheherezade by Assia Djebar, or ESPECIALLY the very similar, but astoundingly better July's People by Nadine Gordimer. July's People is the book that a just world would have given Naipaul's awards.
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Naipaul's worst book
even the good narration couldn't fix it .. surprised this was released on audible before any of his nonfiction