Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Bogart" by V. S. Naipaul Project 196 Trinidad and Tobaco

"Bogart" by V. S. Naipaul (1959, 15 pages)

Project 196

Country 7 of 196
Trinidad and Tobago
V. S. Naipaul

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
  6. Haiti
  7. Trinidad and Tobago
f you are an author and want to represent your country, please contact me.  If you want to do a guest post on your favorite story for the feature please contact me also.  

If you are a publisher that has an anthology that is done in the 196 spirit, please contact me as I will be spotlighting appropriate collections.  

At first I thought I was setting myself an impossible task but a bit of research has made me optimistic  that I can find a short story from all 196 countries in the world.   I feel this part of the project will be completed.   In a much more challenging perhaps impossible project, I also want to publish on my blog a contemporary short story from an author from each of the 196 countries.  

Trinidad and Tobago is a two island country in the western Caribbean with a population of 1.4 million.    It was a British colony until it achieved independence in 1962.  English is the primary language.  The population is 40 percent of Indian descent, 37 of African ancestory and the remaining of mixed background.   In the 1840s when slavery was outlawed in British colonies large numbers of Indians were imported as indentured servants to work in the sugar plantations.   The area is commonly called the "West Indies".

The decision who to pick to represent the country was not a hard one.   V. S. Naipul (1932) won The Nobel Prize for literature in 2001 to add to the many awards he has obtained in his long very productive writing career.   He did draw some negative reaction in the book blog world when he said a woman could not write as well as he does. 

His most famous collection of short stories Miguel Street, deals with life in the slums of the capital of the country.  I decided it must be an omen for me to read a story called "Bogart"as the last few days The Turner Classic Channel in Manila has been running back to back Bogart Movies.  My favorites are Casablanca (referenced in "Bogart") and To Have and to Have Not, set in the French Caribbean. (To make the omens even stronger, I had 7 people log into my blog yesterday from Morocco.)

"Bogart" is a simple, easy to follow narrative about a man living alone, with few friends in a one room apartment in the slums of the capital, Chaguanas.   He is kind of a man of mystery.   Then he starts to disappear for long periods of time and nobody knows where he goes.  His friends called him "Bogart.  At the time of the story, Bogart's popularity was at its peak and his hard-boiled style was the rage among the young men of the town.  All he ever seemed to do was play cards and he did not even like that.  His friend describes him as the most bored man he ever knew.  People begin to wonder what he does when he leaves as he does not make much money at all from his work as a tailor.  He liked to hang out with "the big men of the streets" but he never said much.  Everybody starts speculating one where he goes, some think nearby Venezuela.  One time when he comes home from a long absence, he finds his friends had been bringing women into his room.   He declines one for himself.  The ending is very interesting and I will leave it unspoiled.   I thought it made a very subtle and powerful comment on the culture of machismo.     

I enjoyed this story and hope to read more of his vast output one day.

Project 196 will next visit the Ukraine, then we will return to the warmth of the Caribbean with a story by a brilliant  woman from Cuba.   Then I think we will make our first venture into Africa with a stop at Cameroon.  

Mel u


CHE said...

I've read Miguel Street and also A House For Mr Biswas, although very long ago. In recent years though, one only hears of Naipaul when he makes some outrageous or offensive comment, hardly ever for his work. More's the pity because what I read of him was brilliant.

Mel u said...

Che-yes it a shame people will be turned from reading him-thanks as always for your comments and visits