Winner of the Booker Prize 1971 and nominated for the Golden Man Booker Prize in 2018.
In a Free State tells the story first of an Indian servant in Washington, who becomes an American citizen but feels he has ceased to be a part of the flow. Then of a disturbed Asian West Indian in London who, in jail for murder, has never really known where he is. Then the central novel moves to Africa, to a fictional country somewhere like Uganda or Rwanda.
The novel's central characters once found Africa liberating, but now it has gone sour on them. The land is no longer safe, and at a time of tribal conflict they have to make the long drive to the safety of their compound. At the end of this drive - the narrative tight, wonderfully constructed, the formal and precise language always instilled with violence and rage - we know everything about the English characters, the African country and the Idi Amin-like future awaiting it. This is one of V. S. Naipaul's greatest novels, hard but full of pity.
This is a story about displacement, the yearning for the good place in someone else's land and the attendant heartache.
V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He came to England on a scholarship in 1950. He spent four years at University College, Oxford, and began to write, in London, in 1954. He pursued no other profession. His novels include A House for Mr Biswas, The Mimic Men, Guerrillas, A Bend in the River, and The Enigma of Arrival. In 1971 he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State. His works of nonfiction, equally acclaimed, include Among the Believers, Beyond Belief, The Masque of Africa, and a trio of books about India: An Area of Darkness, India: A Wounded Civilization and India: A Million Mutinies Now. In 1990, V.S. Naipaul received a knighthood for services to literature; in 1993, he was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. He lived with his wife Nadira and cat Augustus in Wiltshire, and died in 2018.