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In this slyly funny novel–his first–V. S. Naipaul traces the unlikely career of Ganesh Ramsumair, a failed schoolteacher and impecunious village masseur who in time becomes a revered mystic, a thriving entrepreneur, and the most beloved politician in Trinidad.
In 1940s Trinidad masseurs were the medical practitioners of choice. Ganesh treats not only muscle pain but people pursued by malign clouds or afflicted with an amorous fascination with bicycles. His ascent is variously aided and impeded by a Dickensian cast of rogues and eccentrics. There’s his skeptical wife, Leela, whose schooling has made her excessively, fond. of; punctuation: marks!; and Leela’s father, Ramlogan, a man of startling mood changes and an ever-ready cutlass. Witty, tender, filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of Trinidad’s dusty Indian villages, The Mystic Masseur is Naipaul at his most expansive and evocative.
“For sheer abundance of talent, there can hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V. S. Naipaul.”–The New York Times Book Review
“Naipaul’s writing is clean and beautiful, and he has a great eye for nuance.”–The Atlantic Monthly
“No one else around today…seems able to employ prose fiction so deeply as the very voice of exile.”–The New York Review of Books