Read A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul Online


Mohun Biswas has spent his 46 years of life striving for independence. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning of his father, he yearns for a place he can call home. He marries into the Tulsi family, on whom he becomes dependent, but rebels and takes on a succession of occupations in a struggle to weaken their hold over him."...

Title : A House for Mr Biswas
Author :
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ISBN : 9780330487191
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 623 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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A House for Mr Biswas Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-03-17 04:50

    This one might make you pull your hair out. So if you're already bald you may need to read it wearing a wig. Also, you need a magnifying glass to find the plot. I had to take samples & send them off to a lab. Apparently there are detectable traces of story in here. But not so's you'd notice.No.The whole thing is a slow, ponderous crawl through the life of a Mr Third World Nobody who gets married by accident and appears to have four kids also by accident, without having any sex as far as I could see. Probably just pushed a specimen jar towards his wife every year or so, in between asking for the piccalilly and complaining about the declining quality of secondhand furniture. Ugh.The many pages of this book describe the awkward dealings Mr Biswas has with his in-laws and how he hates his various jobs. And pretty much nearly everything else. But.All this is made bearable by V S Naipaul's lovely fluent prose which on more than one occasion lifts the mundane details into the heights of the sublime.Ah!Ain't no must-read, but when you drag your ass to the end you get to have a brief glint of self-satisfaction. Four stars, but through really gritted teeth.

  • Rebecca
    2019-02-25 01:52

    A life, from start to finish. This is a book for adults--people who have struggled continually to figure out how to live their lives, people who have dealt with the opposing forces of obligation to family and the desire for independence. It's not a page-turner--and I admire that. There are satisfactions to be found in reading besides wanting to know what happens--the ever-changing balance of power in families; the slight accidents that change lives forever; the mulled-over decisions which change lives very little; the hard-won tiny victories; the slight ratcheting up and down of expectations. This is a crazy thing to say, but if I was responsible for teaching an alien what it is to be human, what it felt like to move through life as a human, I might give it this book.

  • Vit Babenco
    2019-03-01 00:46

    Somehow I was biased against V.S. Naipaul without any reason so I eschewed reading his books. But at last, aware of my hollow prejudice, I made myself read A House for Mr Biswas and the novel was above all my expectations.“Here and there Mr. Maclean’s roof leaked; that added to the cosiness of shelter. Water fell from the corrugations in evenly-spaced streams, enclosing the house. Water flowed down the sloping land below the roof; the pellets of dirt had long disappeared. Water gouged out tortuous channels as it forced its way down to the road and down to the hollow before the barracks. And the rain continued to roar, and the roof resounded. For several seconds at a time lightning lit up a shining chaotic world. Fresh mud flowed off Tarzan’s grave in a thin regular stream. Raindrops glittered as they struck the sodden ground. Then the thunder came, grating and close. Anand thought of a monstrous steam-roller breaking through the sky. The lightning was exciting but it made him feel peculiar. That, and the thunder, sent him back to the bedroom.”The novel is very lavish in words, emotions, colours and subtle observations.“How ridiculous were the attentions the weak paid one another in the shadow of the strong”.A House for Mr Biswas is a meticulous analysis of human weakness…Mr Biswas rebels but he is scared of his own rebellion.Mr Biswas has tremendous ambitions but he is too afraid to fulfill them.Mr Biswas has very high hopes but he is too weak to realize them.He thinks that he fights for a better life but he just fights windmills. His life is nothing but struggle and then he dies.But his children turned out to be his real wealth.

  • Praj
    2019-03-21 05:52

    There it is, a modest roofed structure in Sikkim Street standing tall amid the perfumed beds of anthurium lilies. New memories of wet earth after the rain, freshly painted picket fences, the sweet flowers of laburnum tree, mixed aromas flouncing through the warm rooms and wind whiffing through the trees telescoping the painful past. A sense of belonging cherished with merited identity-Mr. Mohun Biswas’s house.I shy away from the postcolonial contemporary third world fiction. Most of them overwhelm me enlightening the crude aspects of economic claustrophobia which my snobbish approach thoughtlessly overlooks. Keeping in mind this criterion, I cautiously pick out the respected genre books anticipating a satisfying comprehension. Naipaul pens a coherent depiction of impoverished dwelling lost between self-identity and rigid ambitions. It is an exasperating yet rewarding life of a simple man who survives the nightmarish surrealism of being born at the devilish midnight hour. Meet Mohun Biswas, the youngest son of a pitiable sugar-cane labourer whose birth was cursed upon by superstitious omen and was destined to be a ruinous disappointment. Mohun’s life churns out be a metaphoric banner for destitution and misfortune. Blamed for his father’s death and the dissolution of the Biswas family, he struggles through every twisted fate of his life trying to find a speck of self-respect, contentment and independence. His marriage in the celebrated Tulsis family is burdensome and intoxicated with him being a mere accessory in his wife’s home. Dutifully carrying on with the mundane obligations, he berates his sympathetic existence. The only shining beacon of hope is a far-fetched dream of buying a house he can call his own. The notion of acquiring an abode becomes an eternal symbol of Mohun’s own existence as a journalist, a father, a husband and moreover a liberated individual.Naipaul’s vastly elucidated and slow-paced prose underlines quite a few post- colonization inadequacies prevalent in several third world settings till date. Poverty, illiteracy birthing preposterous superstitious dogma, ethnic categorization of class superiority (restricted only to rural infrastructures) and tribulations of pecuniary discrepancies outwitting social hysteria.Mohun’s tale is heroic in its own humble way. All the man wants in his life is a cozy dwelling without the fear of acerbic prejudices. Some would ridicule on this psychological aspect of obtaining a house. It’s a house, for crying out loud! Why make a big deal of it? For an individual who not only thrives in poverty but is tossed among bizarre quarters of underprivileged hardships; the belief of owning a house becomes deeply satisfying, somewhat a battle in itself. Hear, Hear! To Mohun for making peace with his maddening ordinary living.

  • Chrissie
    2019-02-23 08:50

    Only pick this book up if you wish to slog through more than 600 pages filled with the bickering, moans and wailing of a large Indo-Trinidadian family. A Nobel Prize winner that disappoints. The plot is minimal, and the humor not to my taste. It bored me to such an extent that I have no desire to more fully explain. When a book is this boring there is just nothing to say. After 144 pages: On the back cover Newsweek and Anthony Burgess speak of the book's "comic insight and power". What are they talking about?! There is a family where everyone is complaining and picking on each other. I don't see the humor at all. What I have learned about Trinidad and Tobago culture is minimal. Should I persevere?Is this one of those books you are supposed to like, so no one admits it's bad?Completed April 16, 2013

  • William1
    2019-03-24 06:35

    Fun fact touching on both V.S. Naipaul and the James Bond movies. Did you know that A House for Mr. Biswas was once in production as a Broadway musical? The following quote is from the obituary of songwriter John Barry, The New York Times, 2 Feb. 2011:The origins of the James Bond theme are disputed. Mr. Norman [Barry's biographer] said that Barry brushed off a musical passage from “Bad Sign, Good Sign,” a song he had written for a musical version of the V. S. Naipaul novel A House for Mr. Biswas. With a few adjustments, it became the theme to Dr. No, [the film that launched the James Bond series].Surreal...

  • Ben Thurley
    2019-03-08 04:53

    A hugely enjoyable, though simultaneously excruciating, novel. Naipaul has created a character in Mohun Biswas who is, at once, deeply unsympathetic – prone to minor spites, absurd self-regard, and the petty enactment of drawn-out and demeaning grudges against those nearest to him – but whose struggle to assert his independence, identity and worth against the odds (even against the fate outlined for him at birth) is utterly compelling. The descriptions of family life, of community, and of the natural and social landscape of mid-twentieth Trinidad are lush and gloriously sensual. There are sentences to die for, and passages of haunting beauty. The glorious, terrible, hilarious and tragic conflict of order and chaos, stability and subversion, in the Tulsi family (into which Mr Biswas marries and against whom he constantly rails) is richly depicted. Naipaul combines acute psychological observation and a satirical social and political sensibility to tell, beautifully, a simple human story.

  • Tanuj Solanki
    2019-03-21 02:45

    'The world is what it is,' and so is TrinidadWhile Naipaul may seem to be copying the modality of the nineteenth century novel, his main intention here is to construct a self-propagating comic system (in a post-colonial set-up). And he succeeds marvelously in that. The Naipaul system: layered through family, religion, poverty, national identity issues, third-world-ism, third-world journalism and, last but not the least, third-world individuality, is a triumph of twentieth century literature. Incident after incident, Naipaul delivers jokes that seem driven by their own causes at first; but become signifiers of some monumental tragedy by the time they end -- tragedy is, in fact, always surreptitiously at work in the novel. There is a lot of repetition, but even that seems to only add to the stifling nature of Naipaul's realism. A time comes, maybe when around a third of the novel is read, that the reader comes to be completely dissolved in the all-so-real tribulations of Mr. Biswas's world. And from there on, the journey to Mr. Biswas's house becomes his own. The house is built in the end, not without a joke, and not without the tragedy of a trailing joke. P.S. Part of this novel was read during a two week vacation in Bali, and its appreciation may have something to do with the beautiful tropical forest and the beaches around me then, that I as a reader must have imagined (wrongly, Naipaul would argue) in Trinidad.

  • Whitaker
    2019-03-01 00:51

    There’s something about owning a property that taps deep into our psyche. That feeling of calling four walls and a roof your very own speaks to a sense, not just of ownership, but of belonging. The first time I bought an apartment and walked into it, decorated to my own taste, there was an atavistic sense of laying claim to some intangible sense of “me”. It is this search for a sense of identity and belonging that underpins Naipaul’s story of Mohun Biswas. Because his search for a house to call his own is not simply a search for a place to stay. After all, until he finds a house for himself and his wife and children, Biswas lives either with his wife’s sprawling extended family or on their generosity, merely a cog expected to fit uncomplainingly into their communal life. His search for a house is ultimately part of a much larger search to establish his selfhood, struggling to delineate himself apart from the larger identity of the family that he is born into and then of the family that he marries into. This struggle for a selfhood is complicated by the lack of a coherent culture, his own splintered by being a child of Indian immigrants on a British colony off the coast of South America and far away from both motherlands. Indeed, it was this part of Naipaul’s novel that had the greatest resonance for me. Biswas is a hodge-podge of cultures: an Indian in a land far away from India growing up speaking English and reading works like Epiticus and Marcus Aurelius while also flirting with Indian Aryanism and carrying out pujas with little real belief in them, neither Indian nor English and belonging to no real part of the world. Biswas’s deracination is echoed in his inability to feel part of his own family as his inauspicious astrology chart causes his father to keep him at a distance right from his birth nor to feel part of his wife’s family, where he is regarded as part interloper for his refusal to knuckle down to accept his subordinate status in the family hierarchy. It is also echoed in his constant struggles against and rejection of the cruel-kind communal structure of the Indian family—stiflingly oppressive and protective—that is so much a part of the Indian culture that he is born into. While there is no journey in the sense of a road trip or a quest, Mohun Biswas does indeed journey both physically and emotionally in this novel, each stop on his own private Via Dolorosa or Odyssey marked by a different habitation until he does finally in a bittersweet triumph find a house to call his own. It is a remarkable journey that Naipaul describes here, the hardscrabble life of a poor boy lifting himself up by his bootstraps trying to make sense of the world he finds himself in with almost no help or guidance but his own stubborn determination to carve out his own hard won piece of territory.

  • Sonia Gomes
    2019-03-21 02:58

    All that Mr. Biswas wants is respect, not money, not love, not recognition just respect……Born in Trinidad in a poor home he is tricked into marrying Shama Tulsi daughter of the well known, very rich Tulsi House, all because he had had the temerity to write ‘I love you’ on a scrap of paper and hand it over to her. Although warned by many he persists in marrying her. Everyone knows that the Tulsis are on lookout for drones for their daughters, once married the husbands become their property. They live with the Tulsis, eat what food is doled out to them, work on the Tulsi farms and holdings, scraping out an existence as the Tulsi ‘sons-in-law’. Strangely Shama Tulsi never protests, never feels that her husband and children could be treated better, on the contrary she is of the firm belief that she and Mr. Biswas should be eternally grateful to Mai and her brothers. ‘Remember’ she says, ‘You came with just the clothes on your back’How Mr. Biswas longs to get rid of these shackles of charity and gratitude.He throws tantrums, he flings his food out of the window, he insults Shama and her family, he stops having sex with her, feels terribly lonely, ends up having four children. He builds a small, cheap house but at the first heavy shower the roof is blown away, Mr. Biswas suffers a nervous breakdown and is promptly yanked by Shama to the Tulsi House to recover with cups of Ovaltine.He builds a decent career as a journalist, but is relegated to the post of a lowly reporter once the Editor goes away.The little grocery shop they had opened goes bust as Mr. Biswas is unable to collect the credit he had so generously given his customers.All through these abysmal failures the Tulsis treat Mr. Biswas as one would a recalcitrant child, nothing more, laughing indulgently at his tantrums. And all the time Mr. Biswas realises that he has not even made a little dent on the Tulsi composure. In desperation, Mr. Biswas does acquire a little, badly constructed house and he lives for the first time in his life away from the Tulsis, although Shama can never sever the umbilical chord.Strangely, although Mr. Biswas’ life seems one of constant failures and misery, it just does not appear to be so. Reading through Mr. Biswas’ life, you get the feeling this has echoes of your life too…….I have done that, maybe I should have done that……. It is everyone’s life But the overwhelming feeling is that charity enslaves you, charity chokes you. The Donor will always want you to be grateful, and grateful, and grateful, never for a moment will he let go of you until he has extracted every ounce of gratitude from you and never ever will you be respected for having taken that charity in the first place.

  • Chad Bearden
    2019-02-25 00:40

    "Biswas" is my kind of novel. Some complain that it is a bit meandering and aimless, and this is true to an extent. But what the book aims to accomplish (I suspect) is not to give the reader some nice and tidy story with a beginning, middle, and end. Naipaul is aiming for something far more epic: to describe a man's life. He literally starts with Biswas's birth and tracks this willful, sad, cocky man's life all the way to his death. The fact that Biswas's life is full of the mundane does not make the book any less amazing or enjoyable. In fact, at one point in the novel, Biswas tries his hand at writing short stories, and all of his attempts are empty wish-fulfillent tales that ring hollow and leave their author quite disatisfied. He is frustrated and put-upon and driven practically crazy by his in-laws, but his life is far more complex and intersting than the ones he tries to fabricate in his stories. And this is what impresses me about Naipaul's work. He takes an ordinary, sometimes riduculous man, and makes him an unknowing hero in his own life.Biswas's life would not be nearly as satisfying to learn about if it were not draped in the lush language of V.S. Naipaul, who coaxes high drama and sincere emotion from his character's ramblingly ordinary life. Though the story takes place in Trinidad among a mostly Indian community, Naipaul makes Biswas imminently relatable as he deals with crises universal to everyone, including the death of parents, sibling rivalries, awkwardly courting the woman you hardly know, abrupt and unexpected career changes, breaking ties with the past to set off on your own, the joys and heartbreaks of children, and ultimately, the simple act of trying to find a house of his own.Mingled amidst all of this banal drama are the rather exotic (to me anyway) cultural norms of Hinduism and Indian society, both of which Biswas constantly resists. I was impressed that, though some of his struggles are so foreign, I could relate to every little incident he experiences.Overall, this read like and Indian John Updike novel: the story of a flawed protaganist who doesn't realize how big of a jackass he is, who by the end of the work you find yourself rooting for nonetheless as he finds small successes in an otherwise ridiculous life.To people who are in love with language, I can't recommend this work highly enough.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-15 05:39

    "So later, and very slowly, in securer times of different stresses, when the memories had lost the power to hurt, with pain or joy, they would fall into place and give back the past." - Page 557Found near the very end of the novel, this little gem of a sentence is not only a beautiful and evocative bit of prose in it's own right (which it certainly is), but also seems to me a perfect key to understanding Naipaul's wonderful novel about Mohun Biswas, a most unfortunate man trying to get by in post-colonial Trinidad. On the day of his birth, a pundit (after examining the child) announces to the family of Mr. Biswas that he will be something of a curse to them, and to himself. And for the rest of the book we see this prophecy fulfilled time and time again, as our protagonist endures (and causes) a plethora of comical missteps and devastating tragedies. But, hounded by all this bad luck and pestered from every angle by members of his wife's enormous family (as well as his own children), Mr. Biswas persists in the hope of one day having a house of his own, to be king of his own domain. The book has some unusual pacing to it, sometimes focusing for many pages on a single day, other times covering years in the span of only a few paragraphs. Although a number of the moments or events which are dwelt upon at length are of obvious import in the life of the protagonist, at other points they seem almost arbitrarily selected. But this is no criticism, because I feel it relates back to the quotation above, for the novel seems to me to unfold like a series of memories had by our expiring hero. Memories strung together so as to recapture, as closely as possible, the totality of one man's past. And who can claim to understand the human faculty of remembrance, and what it chooses to cling to?But to end the review there would be to leave without having mentioned the masterful way in which V.S. Naipaul weaves his tapestry of memorable characters, creating a world in such a way that only a novelist of the highest grade could achieve. And the humor (!). There were times (especially in the second half of the novel, when Mr. Biswas begins his stint as a morally bereft newspaper columnist) when I had to set the book aside for a moment from laughing. There's a reason I love Buster Keaton so much - I feel that a great humorist is something to be cherished, and I have a real fondness for anyone that can make me laugh. This novel did that and so much more. I would recommend this to anyone who hasn't read it, and I fully intend to read more from Mr. Naipaul.4.5 stars

  • Preeta
    2019-03-12 06:37

    The Trinidadian-English dialogue is just brilliant, and the people are all so tragic and hilarious at the same time, and Mr. Biswas is called Mr. Biswas from the time he is BORN. How can you beat that? Even if you think Naipaul's politics stink, there's no denying this book is a masterpiece.

  • Judy
    2019-03-12 05:43

    V S Naipaul's fourth novel is his longest so far. Still mining the Trinidadian Indian Hindu community amid which he grew up, the locations, people, traditions, the Pundits and the strivers, the remnants of the Indian caste system, are all in play. Having read all four books, I swear I feel as though I know these people well.This is a more somber book. Some humor remains but it felt as though Naipaul's affection for his people had waned. The story covers the entire life of Mr Biswas from his birth under a few bad signs to his death. One funny thing is that the author calls him Mr Biswas throughout and rarely uses his first name.Mr Biswas lost his father at a young age and was reared mostly by relatives in varying stages of poverty. He had virtually no self confidence but his lifelong dream was to have a house of his own. He eventually married into a wealthy family, got a job as a newspaper reporter, and had four children. Until the age of forty, he was doomed to live in the houses of his wife's family where he felt belittled.I am puzzled as to why I found the novel so readable. The writing is assured and in a style not quite resembling any other author. Besides immersing the reader in the society and times of Trinidad, including the harbor city Port of Spain, Naipaul brings to life the customs, strivings, and intimate details of these people. He made me feel their absurdities as well as their eternal efforts to rise from the indentured workers who were their ancestors into participation in mid 20th century life by means of education and grasping onto any possible business opportunities.So it is an immigrant story in the long run and that is pretty much THE STORY of the world: people who have come from somewhere else either by choice or because of wars and slavery, intermingling their lives, customs and beliefs with other peoples. It is essentially a sad story and so is the life of Mr Biswas threaded with defeats and humiliations.I kept hoping he would triumph somehow but his accomplishments were miniscule, reminding me that history is actually made up mostly of people living from day to day with hopes that are largely dashed but always harboring those hopes as an incentive to rise above mere survival.A House For Mr Biswas is considered to be Naipaul's breakout book. After this he moved on to writing novels set in Great Britain and around the world. He has won both the Booker Prize and the Nobel along with a reputation bespattered in recent years with charges of misogyny and racism. In the numerous portrayals of beatings of children and wives along with a deep distrust of anyone not Hindu that pepper his early novels, I can see how his influences would make it difficult to achieve any level of "political correctness." Perhaps he has carried Mr Biswas with him throughout his life.

  • Philippe Malzieu
    2019-03-05 05:58

    Difficult to keep the clear idéees when a book is preceded such a reputation. Sublimate, inevitably sublimates. We can only find that brilliant. Respect. End of history.Can we not like what everyone likes. Can one not hate but find that only well made but not transcendantal.If not it is well written, but I have difficulty to impassioning myself for this history.

  • Robert Wechsler
    2019-03-14 02:51

    This novel is, as Ben Thurley wrote on Goodreads, “excruciating” and yet highly "enjoyable." It succeeds less because of the detritus of the title character’s mostly miserable life than because of the third-person, nearly omniscient narrator’s wonderfully observing voice. There were many times I wanted to put down this overlong novel, but there are so many singularly moving, humorous, and enlightening passages and sections that I would have been foolish as Mr. Biswas to have abandoned it.If you give this book a try, be as stoical as Mr. Biswas’s favorite philosophers and as Naipaul’s narrator, as well.

  • Madhulika Liddle
    2019-03-01 05:48

    The novel that marked VS Naipaul’s rise as one of the world’s literary stalwarts, A House for Mr Biswas straddles the years before and after World War II. The eponymous Mr Biswas is named Mohun, and is called either that, or ‘Biswas’, or ‘Man’, or, derisively, ‘crab-catcher’ by those around him, but always referred to—tellingly—by his narrator as ‘Mr Biswas’. As a baby, as a boy, he is still, in Naipaul’s words, Mr Biswas, an indication, perhaps, of Biswas’s lifelong need (only partly and rarely fulfilled) to win the respect and envy of those around him, the right to be addressed as a man of some worth. The story follows Mr Biswas, from his birth in a poor village household, to his brief apprenticeship as a pundit, then the varying professions and occupations he goes through: sign painter, shopkeeper, ‘labourer’, reporter, semi-government servant. It follows a callow teenager of a Mr Biswas as he makes a tentative pass at Shama, the daughter of the Tulsis, the vast joint family that inhabits Hanuman House. It takes him into the house as Shama’s bridegroom, soon lost in the ordered chaos of the Tulsi household, trying desperately to keep his head up, learning the politics of the family, building relationships, seeing them disintegrate. Picking quarrels. Becoming, by the time he’s thirty-three, the frustrated father of four children. The theme that runs throughout the book (and which is indicated by its very title) is, of course, that of Mr Biswas’s attempt to buy, build, or rent a house for himself and his family. A house unencumbered by Tulsis, a house of his own. This, though, is just the underlying theme. The story itself is one of relationships: of emotion, jealousy, ambition, even—shining forth now and then and invariably in the unlikeliest of circumstances—love.A House for Mr Biswas is engrossing, sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous (though usually in a bitter, satirical way). It is not, however, a lovable book. Its characters aren't lovable, not even its protagonist. What makes it a memorable book, though, is the overall effect. The way the story moves, the way Naipaul creates a sense of time and space. The characters themselves, who come alive in ways that remind us uncomfortably of our own foibles and idiosyncrasies. The astonishing understanding of human nature and its ability to—sometimes simultaneously—hate and love, respect and despise, aspire for and deride. No, not a lovable book, but certainly an admirable one.

  • محمد الحمراوي
    2019-03-02 05:50

    أحلام السيد بيسواس لم تكن كبيرة ، فهو لم يحلم بأكثر من الزواج من فتاة يعيش معها الحياة التي رآها في الكتب ممكنة ، ثم أنه تمنّى أن تكون له مهنة تناسب طموحاته ، ثم أنه تمنّى أن يحظى بالإحترام ، ثم أخيراً تمنّى أن يكون له بيت ؛ بيت يكون له بمثابة الوطن ، يحتضنه حين تقسو عليه الدنيا ، ويستطيع أن يحتمي بجدرانه من غدرها ، وأن يبكي دون أن يصل بكاؤه إلى سمع أحد . أحلام عادية ، لم يكن من المستحيل تحقيقها لو لم يكن يعيش في دولة من دول العالم الثالث الغارقة في ظلمات الخرافة ، لا تؤمن بأن ولادة طفل في منتصف الليل تعد نذير شؤم ، فيكون هذا الطفل الرضيع الذي لا حول له ولا قوة محكوماً عليه مسبقاً بالفشل ودمار الآخرين . فيكبر هذا الطفل حاملاً فوق كاهليه عبء وفاة والده ، منبوذاً من أسرته ، وحيداً ، ومجاهداً بكل طاقته ليحطّم هذا المصير الذي لم يختره . كان بإمكانه أن يتزوّج الفتاة التي يحب ويختار ، بدلاً من أن يتزوّج من أول فتاة رآها في حياته ، دون أن يعرف عنها أي شئ ، لقد ألقى بورقة مكتوب فيها "أحبك" وهو لا يعرف بعد إن كانت تستطيع القراءة أم لا . لكن تصرّفه الصبياني هذا ورّطه في اختيار لم يكن بعد مدركاً أنه اختاره . كان بإمكانه أن يحظى بالإحترام لم يكن يعيش في بيت التولسيين ، تافهاً أمام سلطة "سث" ، ضعيفاً أمام قوة "جوفند" ، حقيراً أمام قداسة "هاري" ، دون زوجة تدعمه وتشد من أزره . عاش السيّد بيسواس حياته مقاتلاً في سبيل أبسط حقوقه ، الحقوق التي رأى أنه يستحقها ، واستكثرتها عليه الحياة . البيت الذي كان يحلم به ، ولطالما حلم به ، لم يتمكّن من الحصول عليه إلا في نهاية حياته ، بعد أن أعياه المرض وفقد وظيفته ورحل عنه أبناؤه . لم تكن أحلام السيد بيسواس بالكثيرة ، لكن الحياة في دولة من دول العالم الثالث جد قاسية . هذه الرواية مليئة بتفاصيل حياة الملايين ممن يقاتلون يومياً في سبيل الحصول على أبسط حقوقهم دون أن ينالوها ، فلا يملكون في مواجهة فشلهم هذا إلا البكاء كـ "شاما" أو السخرية كـ "بيسواس" . فوجئت حين لم أجد أحداً من أصدقائي القرّاء على كثرتهم قد قرأ هذه الرواية ، التي طبعتها "الهيئة العامة للكتاب" منذ خمس سنوات كاملة ، لـ "نايبول" الذي فاز بـ "نوبل" في 2001 ! عمل يستحق القراءة .

  • Alan
    2019-03-09 06:37

    This, my first Naipaul, and probably his best, though no more hilarious than Miguel Street. Many of his later books are non-fiction, like Among the Believers, A Tour in the South, or even The Loss of El Dorado. Here, Hanuman House is everybody's nightmare mother-in-law's. The name evokes the Hindu god of war, a common stereotype of the mother-in-law made new in its witty application to the family home. Since Hanuman House holds all the in-laws, including brothers-in-law and Biswas' wife's nieces etc., this is the House of War, of family wars. So Biswas, a sign-painter by trade, goes off to make his own house, an inspiring attempt, rather Thoreauvian. Imagine the cottage-buiding chapter in Walden written from a married immigrant in the Carribean. Thoreau captures a flying squirrel which he looses in his cabin, recaptures and eventually releases, calculating the distance and flight path; Biswas lies on his back watching ants cross his ceiling. Biswas' house seems to me not much bigger than Thoreau's little cabin, though Biswas builds a small verandah I think. (I may be confusing the porch with another Caribbean novelist's account, Jean Rhys'.) And Biswas' definitely boasts a tin roof. In fact, Biswas indebts himself to build his modest house, and he encounters both job and health difficulties with age. Early on, Naipaul regales us with the superstitions retailed by pundits in both Hindu and Caribbean culture. Biswas is born at the worst hour, midnight, and has a sixth finger--though it drops off in the first week. The pundit predicts this child will eat his father; for this prediction he is paid handsomely, a florin.

  • Aaron
    2019-03-13 04:48

    Living legend V.S. Naipaul's masterpiece. This anti-bildungsroman traces the protagonist (supposedly based on Naipaul's father) from being "born wrong" to his tragic but timely death. The sweep and detail of the novel will amaze you, but it's not for the faint-of-heart: Mohun Biswas is not a likeable character, and the circumstances of his life (post-colonial Trinidad) are difficult. Put aside your judgements of him and let yourself get caught up in the story. You won't be disappointed.

  • Heather Moore
    2019-03-08 08:35

    I had the greatest connection with what Mr. Biswas was going through. It helped me to find peace with the truth that what is perfect for one person does not actually have to be perfect, it just has to be theirs.

  • Jocelyn
    2019-03-06 05:56

    EDIT: Just found out that this author is a racist who thinks “Africans need to be kicked – that’s the only thing they understand.”He's also an abuser who violently beat his mistress and thought it was a sign of his passion for her.(Thanks to this review for the links.)I wish I could find the following quoted comments funny, but people get hurt because of people like Naipaul's bigotry. The fact that he can dismiss an entire sex and an entire race of people indicates a social system that supports such a perspective, and both are deserving of severe criticism, to make a massive understatement.Of course, from the point of view of someone who doesn't give a damn about cheapening gigantic swaths of humanity in a couple of statements, it's not like it even matters.________________Four and a half years late, but I can't resist. (Actually, 2011 is way too recent IMO for this bullshit to even exist.) A prime example of when the best course of action is to shut the hell up: an interview at the Royal Geographic Society on Tuesday about his career, Naipaul, who has been described as the "greatest living writer of English prose", was asked if he considered any woman writer his literary match. He replied: "I don't think so." Of Austen he said he "couldn't possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world".He felt that women writers were "quite different". He said: "I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me."The author, who was born in Trinidad, said this was because of women's "sentimentality, the narrow view of the world". "And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too," he said.My absolute favorite bit:"I don't mean this in any unkind way."Here is the fucking deal. If you can't empathize with half the goddamn population, then it is YOU who are narrow-minded and sentimental. No woman writer is your literary match, eh? Maybe you're right! Because if I were a writer, I would be EMBARRASSED to think myself your equal--the equal of a pathetic narcissist like you.Never read his books, but that is beside the point. I would laugh at this person's idiocy, but the truly sad thing is that he gets away with saying this stuff at all. Why is it that sexist people are allowed to stand on their pedestals and given the cultural authority to validate other people's experiences and opinions, is the part that's just so wrong.

  • Johnny D
    2019-02-23 01:54

    Knowing virtually nothing about this book before I opened it, it took me some time to adjust to it. You see, this is not a drama or an adventure, it is the story of one man’s life. Once I became used to the idea that this book would not have a traditional plot, that it was a darkly humourous take on the life of the “little man”, I was immediately engrossed. Mr. Biswas is an unlikeable chap. He repeatedly embarrasses himself, he is weak, he is temperamental, he strikes out irrationally at those closest to him, and he loses with great consistency. He’s an unremarkable man, a nobody who is desperate to throw off the bonds of dependence, to strike out on his own, and, yes, to have a house. And yet, Mr. Biswas is a remarkable man. He is witty, intelligent, and strangely charming. Despite his great efforts to “paddle his own canoe,” everything happens to him rather than happening because ofhim. The characters are rich, the humour is sharp, and the story is touching. If someone had attempted to describe the plot of this book to me I don’t think I would have read it. Fortunately, no one did me that favour and I was able to get lost in this remarkably written tale.

    2019-02-25 09:02

    I read this book when I was about 30. This book is really for a very mature audience, for people who have experienced life. The main character is mercurial in a sense. We all at some point in our lives become anxious with life, that we should be more than what we turned out to be. For some people, this is an obsession. When we hit mid-life, there's an urgency to achieve what we dreamed of when we were younger but never achieved. For Mr. Biswas, since there is no way he will be anything more, a house is all he could think to have. And for many, a house represents freedom, ownership and achievement. If you never become rich, or famous, or attained your dream job, a house is a surrogate. I truly felt this when I turned thirty, and I'm sure there are others who feel this way when they reach 40, or 50 or other milestones in their life.Most people are looking for a plot. However, that is not the point. One has to seriously look between the text to actually appreciate it. The happenings in the book are to align themselves with our lives, not reflect. It is a novel of the highest thinking order.

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2019-03-09 08:45

    Ok, I've spent over 4 days with this and am nearly halfway, but I'm going to cut my losses. I was hoping for something more like A Fine Balance, and since Naipaul has won a few awards, including the Nobel, I thought I could expect something more than what it is. I just looked at a couple of reviews (both a 4-star and a 2-star) and it just isn't going to get better. I've said many times that I really like my life, but it isn't very interesting in the retelling. This was the story of the life of Mr. Biswas from birth to death. However, he didn't like his life much and it was even less interesting in the retelling than my life. Or at least from my perspective.There was no hope, no kindness, no sharing with another, no moment of joy to break up the poverty of existence. I couldn't take it any more.

  • Anis Suhaila
    2019-03-20 03:38

    Took a while to finish because it was so depressing. Rasa macam menonton this one guy gets into a big hole (either by his own fault atau orang lain), he gets out then jatuh balik ke dalam lubang yang sama. Berkali-kali.Beberapa watak was just infuriating and frustrating, penulis berjaya dalam mencipta watak yang dibenci sepenuh hati.Watak utama pula, minta untuk disimpati. Dan bila kita sudah penat bersimpati, kita mula membenci. Dan bila kita sedar we can relate so much to the him, kita mula bergelumang dalam self-pity.

  • مروان البلوشي
    2019-02-28 07:49

    تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠٠١النثر في هذه الرواية... جميل لدرجة التحليق في السماء بلا نهاية

  • Eryn☘
    2019-03-09 07:41

    2 starsI read this for school ... and sometimes I get lucky and actually like the book that's assigned, however, not so much with this one. It was extremely random throughout the entirety of the book - and there was nothing I really liked, when I think about it.Overall, I'm pretty glad to be done with it.

  • Abdul
    2019-03-06 01:37

    My favourite novel to date.For those who are giving this book bad reviews... this might be helpful:I highly doubt that Mr. Naipaul’s primary goal in this book was to entertain or teach anyone about Indo-Trinidadian culture. I have to say, though, there’s plenty to learn in this book about the latter. Primarily, this is the story of one Mohun Biswas, who was born the wrong way and with an extra finger. The childhood of Mr. Biswas was very interesting, especially to someone who’s ever walked to school barefoot, and lived in poor people’s quarters belonging to some rich relatives, and seen his or her siblings sent into laborious, low paying jobs as children, so that they become adults much faster than the average person. This book, I must say, is very keen, totally alert on every page and full of irony and realistic characters. Above all, the book is about Mr. Biswas’s independence, owning a house of his own. For a book of this length, the writer did excellent to stick to his main theme, without ignoring the flesh. Every time a house is mentioned, it is described in great detail, for that’ what Mr. Biswas notices most of the times, this being his main preoccupation. I read it about four years, and will list some memorable moments, either for their comedy, irony, character revelation, social depth, beauty of the process. The book begins with a prologue, (doesn’t rely at all on suspense) as Mr. Biswas’s age of death is revealed, and that he has at last found a house of his own… Ina single paragraph, Naipaul renders foreshadows the entire novel for us. (Pay attention to the prose here)1. He thought of the house as his own, though for years it had been irretrievably mortgaged. And during these months of illness and despair he was struck again and again by the wonder of being in his own house, the audacity of it: to walk in through his own front gate, to bar entry to whoever he wished, to close his doors and windows every night, to hear no noises except those of his family, to wander freely from room to room and about his yard, instead of being condemned, as before, to retire the moment he got home to the crowded room in one or the other of Mrs. Tulsi’s houses, crowded with Shama’s sisters, their husbands, their children. As a boy he had moved from one house of strangers to another; and since his marriage he felt he had lived nowhere but in the houses of the Tulsis, at Hanuman House in Arwacas, in the decaying wooden house at Shorthills, in the clumsy concrete house in Port of Spain. And now at the end he found himself in his own house, on his own half-lot of land, his own portion of the earth. That he should have been responsible for this seemed to him, in these last months, stupendous.2. Another scene is when Mr. Biswas, having decided to build his own house on a property owned by his in laws not far from Arwacas, goes to his uncle Ajodha to borrow some money to complete the house. Ajodha welcomes Biswas and throws around a few jokes, even picks a visiting nephew, and immediately after lunch, retires to his bed, telling Mr. Biswas… denying Mr. Biswas the opportunity to ask. It turns out every time Biswas tried to say something about the house, Ajodha would interrupt him at the beginning of the sentence with something unrelated, and only a page or so later, will the reader realize that Ajodha has known what Mr. Biswas came for all along, and interrupting him out. This is revealed by the visiting nephew who says to Biswas as the latter heads to the bus stop. ‘The old man can smell a thing like that before you even think it.’ Read back at Ajodha’s behavior with Biswas, and you get what am saying here. It was genius I thought. 3. Consider how so much can be said about a character in very few words and in uncommon prose, nearly inventive in its execution. For instance, in the early pages, Naipaul writes of Biswas’s niece Suniti… ‘The news that Mr. Biswas was negotiating for a house of his own had gone around Shama’s family. Suniti, a niece of twenty-seven, married, with two children, and abandoned for long periods by her husband, a handsome idler who looked after the railway buildings at Pokima Halt where trains stopped twice a day, Suniti said to Shama, “I hear that you come like a big-shot, Aunt.” She didn’t hide her amusement. “Buying house and thing.”4. At one point, Biswas finds a little boy breaking bottles in his shop, and grabs him b the collar, pulling him out. The boy cries, the mother is upset that Biswas touched her child. Her response, read this “The mother broke two switches on the boy, speaking as she beat. “This will teach you not to meddle with things that don’t belong to you. This will teach you not to provoke people who don’t make any allowances for children.” She caught sight of the marks left on the boy’s collar by Mr. Biswas’s fingers, sticky from the tin-lid. “And this will teach you not to let big people make your clothes dirty. This will teach you that they don’t have to wash them. You are a big man. You know right. You know wrong. You are not a child. That is why I am beating you as though you are a big man and can take a big man’s blows.” Get the irony? If one can’t get such stuff, one need not read third world literature at all. Executing such a scene, with this sort of dialogue is near impossible to an ordinary writer, and Naipaul, is no ordinary writer.

  • Sandhya
    2019-03-22 01:43

    Having read V S Naipaul’s A Million Mutinies Now (a epic travelogue for its sheer scope and detailing) and An Area of Darkness (an unforgiving, somewhat crude description of post-Independence India), one surmises that whether one chooses to agree or not with his highly provocative, opinionated views, there’s never a dull moment around his writings – a major asset for any author. Also, Naipaul very successfully manages to articulate his thoughts in simple, lucid language, and yet dazzles you with the richness, complexity and sheer emotional expanse of the text.For a long time now, one has been hearing about A House for Mr Biswas being undoubtedly his best work. Also, since I had only read his non-fictional works, there was a certain curiosity to see his fictional writing. Of course, A House For Mr Biswas is not wholly fiction and in fact, borrows a lot from Naipaul’s own childhood.The central character of Mr Biswas is based on the life of his father and the novel tracks his life from birth to death. Right since he is born, he is considered a bad omen for the family. By a quirk of fate, the prediction indeed comes true with Biswas’ father getting drowned while trying to save him. The family goes through very trying times, even as his mother Bipti appears totally detached and whining at all times. Biswas is often sent to his wealthy aunt’s place, where he does odd jobs for the family. Biswas loves the ambience of the place and dreams of being able to afford the same lifestyle someday. But in every scheme that his mother finds to get him 'settled' – one of them has him as an apprentice to a mean-minded Pundit (this whole episode is hilarious as much as it is ironic) – ends up frustrating Mr Biswas even further.That's when Biswas' life takes another dramatic turn. A harmless bit of flirting with his employer's daughter plunges him straight into marriage. Biswas is not prepared, but his in-laws, the affectionate yet firm Mrs Tulsi and her commanding son-in-law, insist on the match. This, even though Biswas is penniless.He moves in with the Tulsis – a queer, noisy extended family where the Tulsi daughters are welcomed to stay with their husbands and children. Since most of the son-in-laws are not very well-to-do, they are employed either in one of the family’s shops or fields.Mr Biswas is enraged seeing that he has to follow the rules set by his wife’s family. He abhors the tasteless food they serve, helplessly cribbing that it ruins his stomach and in general leaves no opportunity to deride them or pick up fights with the elders. The family is more often than not patient with him, trying to buy peace by giving him a fresh opportunity. Many a times, Mr Biswas gets so outraged by the family that he moves out, only to face hardships outside and return back defeated. He finds scant support from his wife who is practical about their financial condition and stays put at her mothers’ place with her kids.The only time Mr Biswas’ life looks up is when he lands a job as a journo at the Sentinel. Tired of the Tulsis, he attempts to build a house of his own at least on two occasions. But always short of cash and saddled with a million troubles always, he ends up making a mish-mash of it each time and lands right back with the Tulsis.However, Mr Biswas does manage a house of his own towards the end and nothing gives him more happiness than to live in a place where he doesn’t have to be indebted to the Tulsis. Strangely, Biswas finds more peace and cheer in the last few years of his life (with his son Anand and Savi) than he ever gets in his lifetime.The novel is a marvel in character creation and Naipaul’s ability to penetrate through human psyche and proclivity with such searing candor makes A House For Mr Biswas an immensely rich work. The description of the Tusli family with its varied and colourful characters is especially ingenious.Also, the novel can be read on a number of levels. Even without any special emphasis on its historical context, it still holds true as a novel about frustration and tragic vulnerability that lies at the core of all human existence.The subtext is never overt, but it’s possible to read the Tulsi House as a symbol of colonialism. Trinidad was under British rule and Naipaul could possibly be driving home the point about how restrictive and controlled such living could be. Mr Biswas’ constant failure with every new endeavour hints towards the ill-preparedness of the Trinidadian populace when left on their own. Without adequate training or experience, Biswas is always clueless.Yet, reading A House For Mr Biswas can be exhausting, for the tedium it brings at several points. The novel is too long, too repetitive. The same things keep happening to Mr Biswas all through the novel. In addition to that, the overly discriptive style of the book tends to tire you out.But then again, there's another way of looking at the novel. The book moves at snail's pace , but so does Mr Biswas' own life that refuses to take off. Somewhere in the tedium felt by the reader lies Mr Biswas' own frustration at seeing his life languishing.Naipaul's subject matter is grim but the author's trademark dark humour and ironic wit ensures that A House for Mr Biswas remains as entertaining, as it is