Ninety-Nine Novels: A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
In 1984, Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
In this episode, Andrew Biswell of the Burgess Foundation speaks to academic and writer Will Ghosh about A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, a novel Burgess described as ‘beautifully composed […] with an almost Conradian power of description.’
First published in 1979, A Bend in the River is a disturbing work which explores the violence and disorder which often go hand in hand with aggressively nationalistic regimes. It is a complex novel about the difficulties of newly independent nations, and the ambiguous legacies of the colonial period.
Will Ghosh teaches Victorian and Modern Literature at Jesus College in the University of Oxford. His research focuses on Caribbean and South Asian literatures after 1945. He has written extensively about VS Naipaul, and published his first book, VS Naipaul, Caribbean Writing and Caribbean Thought, in 2020.
Books mentioned in this episode
By V.S. Naipaul:
- Miguel Street (1959)
- A House for Mr Biswas (1961)
- The Middle Passage (1962)
- The Mimic Men (1967)
- Guerillas (1975)
- A Congo Diary (1980)
- Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981)
- The Enigma of Arrival (1987)
- India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990)
- A Way in the World (1994)
- Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples (1998)
- Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (1901)
- The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian by Nirad C. Chaudhuri (1951)
- The Novel Now by Anthony Burgess (1967)
- The Dragon Can’t Dance by Earl Lovelace (1979)
- Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (1979)
- Roots by Edward Kamau Braithwaite (1986)
- The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald (1995)
- The 100 Best Novels in English by Robert McCrum (2016)
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
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The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.