This book is an examination of the representation of Africa in the travel writing of V. S. Naipaul, the Trinidad-born writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. Naipaul distinguished himself as novelist, essayist and most importantly as a travel writer with the material from each of the three drawing from and feeding each other. The book presents the writer’s perception of Africa as seen through the combination of the travelogues and the fiction on the continent. It also analyses the interface between the fictional texts and the factual ones and how they draw from or reinforce each other. In addition, it examines the importance of Naipaul in the emerging genre of travel writing and how his vision suggests the subversion of the dominant tradition within the genre and generally within postcolonial writing. It also discourses on Naipaul’s writing based on Africa, as a unique representation of the way the ‘other’ perceives Africa because of his own position as ‘subject’ as well as simultaneous ‘other’ often expressed in his assumed aloofness and negation, and how this places a dual demand on him as a writer. While some credit Naipaul with having ‘united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in his works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories’, many others in their varied unflattering opinions often dismiss his contribution to the search for a truthful understanding of the North–South paradigm by alluding to the falsification of things, that ends with the writer ultimately seeking refuge in the safety of an imperial center. Naipaul’s affinity with Conrad also invites suspicion and dismissal among certain critics especially in view of his admiration for the concept of ‘the heart of darkness’. The book contributes to the debates on the place of the so- called “emerging” societies within the frame of globalization especially in relation to how the imperial centre reinvents itself and attempts to sustain the centre/periphery axis through cultural commentary presented from seemingly disinterested sources.
Busolo Wegesa is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at Moi University where he teaches mainly theories of literature and diasporic literatures. He has conducted in-depth studies on writing from the Caribbean and the Americas and the way these works attempt to deal with the African origin and experience of the writers. This book emerges partly from his study of the Trinidad-born writer V. S. Naipaul, who though of Asian extract, in his later works focused on Africa both as a travel writer but also using the continent to examine the disruption of life by the imperial adventure and the struggle to cope the new circumstances. Busolo is also interested in the forging of identities in ongoing Mobilities in society and how these identities find expression in the cultural practices of societies.
Maina T. Sammy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Language and Literary Studies and a Master of Arts degree in Literature from Moi University, Kenya, where he is pursuing his doctorate. Maina teaches Literature at Moi University’s Department of Literature, Linguistics, Foreign Languages and Film Studies. He is also a member of Kenya Oral Literature Association (KOLA). With over 10 years of experience, and several publications in peer-reviewed and refereed journals, Maina is a salted publisher, researcher and editorial consultant.