"Half a Life" by V.S. Naipaul. [review - radio script]
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At the beginning of "Half a Life", Willie Chandran asks his father why his middle name is Somerset. His father replies, ‘without joy, “You were named after a great English writer.”’ This phrase, ‘without joy’, could equally refer to the whole novel. It begins with an account of the dreary life of Willie’s father, a high-caste Indian sadhu married to a low-caste woman he despises, and continues with Willie’s own story as a foreign student in London and then husband of a ‘half-and-half’ Portuguese-African on her East African estate.