· 1 January 2001 |
· Published in: Boeken Janantoon
· Tagged with: boeken: Engels · roman
A House for Mr Biswas
gepubliceerd door: Penguin
verworven via: GBG
In this extraordinary novel Nobel Prize winner V. S. Naipaul tells the story of Indian immigrants seeking a new life in the West Indies. Like all immigrants for centuries, Mr. Biswas longed to find a place, to build an identity, to find status and recognition. Overcoming his past, moving beyond the limitations of race and social class, Biswas dreams of proving himself. He is looking for a place to sleep and eat, to read and rest. He is looking for dignity.
And his symbol became the house he intended to build for his growing family. The house consumes him. The pursuit becomes demonic in its intensity. There are trials and tests and interruptions galore. And these challenges fuel his obsession.
Naipaul starts his story with the death of Mr. Biswas and then unravels his history from his birth onward. Even as a small child Naipaul calls him Mr. Biswas, making him more a symbol than a real person. Many commentators found this "a work of great comic power" (Anthony Burgess), which is surprising to me. Perhaps they love the Laurel and Hardy kind of humour: someone falling with his ass in the mud, haha.
I see it more as a drama, not the classic drama’s with death and punishment, no, the drama of rootless people trying to find a way and a place to live. The description of Mr. Biswas’s depression when his first house is demolished by a storm is haunting.
This is also a book from a son about a father. Anand, the son, managed to get away and start a new life. One feels the pity and the sorrow of abandoning and abandonment. This makes it also a book of atonement.
A marvelous book.