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on 10 October 2015
Started off well but found it got increasingly boring and repetitive
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on 18 September 2002
I read this book over fifteen years ago and I still think about it now. That marks it as a classic for me. Beautiful prose and a charming and insightful story. Mr biswas is the man none of us want to be, but all want to cheer on to better his rather sad life.
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on 26 June 2009
In its density and temporal reach "Biswas" is a Dickensian delight. But Naipaul is, amazingly, a better stylist than Dickens ever was. A wonderful book.
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on 29 August 2011
In A House for Mr Biswas, V.S.Naipaul takes relish in creating an unpromising protagonist and an utterly prosaic plot. There are no grand sweeps of history, this is not a novel of ideas and the author resolutely refuses to tie up all the threads in the final pages. Mr Biswas blunders into buying a succession of jerry-built homes, and, in spite of some talent as a writer, spends most of his time in fear of the sack from the newspaper where he is employed. Naipaul eschews tricks of story-telling; indeed events are humdrum, reflecting all the daily squabbles, rivalries and occasional triumphs of the extended Tulsi family, Indians living in Trinidad. Furthermore Naipaul declines to fill in the characters in the story. Why then is it so readable and why so comic - or as the blurb on the back says, tragi-comic? In part the story telling is captivating because of its unvarnished honesty. As in William Boyd's Any Human Heart, chance dictates much of the plot. The writing too is plain, nothing soaringly poetic, but irreducably concise prose. So a uncompromising book that throws down an implicit challenge to the reader. And Mr Biswas, for all that he may look like a loser, has something defiant about him and that's just enough to redeem him.
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on 11 February 2017
Desperately boring, PC sludge. Refuses to recognise any of the blessings that colonialism & the British rule if law brought to these 3rd world hellholes.
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on 7 January 2008
Poor Mr Biswas. What a monster he seems with his adopted family, but how true he is to the way all of us feel when our relatives get too much for us.

His dream to have a place on this earth to call his own is a universal desire and his achievement just before he shuffles off his own mortal coil brings the novel to a conclusion that, unlike too many other novels, feels complete.
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on 24 May 2012
After finally getting a copy of V. S. Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas, it was not at all as I had expected - it was a hundred times better. The pure comedy with which the pathos is matched leaves you at once sad and uplifted. If ever there was a testament to the dignity of life and the power of hope, this is it. Be warned, there are aspects of what to most of us nowadays are unpalatable factors of a deeply patriarchal, diaspora culture, not least the many wife beatings and child floggings we are witness to. Yet we sense that Mohun (Mr Biswas) has an instinctive abhorence of such violence and we soon realise that in spite of his calling them his 'trap', he loves his wife and children, to the extent that he has devoted his life to a dream of acquiring a proper house for them all, away from the power-laden dependency on his in-laws, the Tulsis. This is a tale of survival and more, it is a testament to Hope, I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 7 March 2011
There are a great number of excellent reviews of this book here; read them and you don't really need my interpretation. However I did want to add my voice to the praise for 'A house for Mr Biswas': it is indeed a masterpiece. It is the story, lightly and humourously told, of one family's struggle out of poverty, out of the darkness and traditions of some far flung outpost of the colonies and into the modernism of the twentieth century with all its dreams and ambitions of hope and prosperity. It is not a pretty story if one reads beyond Naipaul's gentle humour, for beneath that humour lurks the ever present terror of serious poverty: yet it is a warm and wonderful story told with great beauty and skill. I loved Mr Biswas, for in him I recognised so much of me.
Certainly one of the very best books I have ever read.
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on 30 November 2010
I really enjoyed this book, yes it was depressing in places and Mr Biswas is not a likable character, but somehow I wanted him to find his house and for him to live happily ever after. Maybe I was fed up with him moaning and arguing for the entire book and being jealous of other people's fortunes.
I liked the humour of the book, the bickering, the trying to outdo each other.... would definitely recommend it.
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on 17 April 2010
This was my first Naipaul and I was very disappointed. Like other reviewers, I failed to detect the humour- indeed, I found the book very depressing (I had difficulty forcing myself to finish it). Mr. Biswas has no depth or reality; nor does his wife or the horde of in-laws. I thought this was a rambling, overlong piece of self-indulgence.
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