V. S. Naipaul, Author , read by Aasif Mandvi. Recorded Books $29.99 (0p) ISBN 978-1-4193-0000-4

Mandvi turns in a soft, reserved performance of Naipaul's novel about idealism, revolution and self-discovery. The book follows on the heels of Naipaul's Half a Life , continuing the story of Willie Chandron, the product of a mixed-caste marriage, as he attempts to find his place in the world and come to terms with himself and others. Perhaps the nature of Naipaul's spare yet powerful writing is what led Mandvi to take such a quiet and nearly monotoned approach to his narration. It's a fitting idea, as Naipaul himself seems to write with a detachment to his character, and Willie is frequently swept along by the wills of others. But what might seem right in theory doesn't translate in practice, and Mandvi's narration has as much a tendency to be soporific as dreamlike. His characterizations are likewise subtle, and though he has a natural capacity for the Indian accents that figure so heavily in the book, he seems to struggle with whether or not to fully embrace the voices of English characters. It's less of a poor performance than it is a daunting task, and while Mandvi's reading may show deference to the text of a recognized master, it doesn't make for a compelling listen. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Forecasts, Oct. 18, 2004). (Nov. 2004)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Audio
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