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V. S. Naipaul’s legendary command of broad comedy and acute social observation is on abundant display in these classic works of fiction–two novels and a collection of stories–that capture the rhythms of life in the Caribbean and England with impressive subtlety and humor.
The Suffrage of Elvira is Naipaul’s hilarious take on an electoral campaign in the back country of Trinidad, where the candidates’ tactics include blatant vote-buying and supernatural sabotage. The eponymous protagonist of Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion is an aging Englishman of ponderously regular habits whose life is thrown into upheaval by a sudden marriage and unanticipated professional advancement. And the stories in A Flag on the Island take us from a Chinese bakery in Trinidad–whose black proprietor faces bankruptcy until he takes a Chinese name–to a rooming house in London–where the genteel landlady plays a nasty Darwinian game with her budgerigars. Unfailingly stylish, filled with intelligence and feeling, here is the work of a writer who can do just about anything that can be done with language.