"Everything goes on a bias. The world should stop, but it goes on..."
Half a Life, a novel by V. S. Naipaul, tells story of one 'Willie Somerset Chandran' from his teens to his 40s across three continents.
The narrative is very bitter in its observations and the protagonist comes out mostly as an unlikeable shallow person trying to half-heartedly fit-in all his life. He's looking neither for fortune, nor respect; Most of the time Willie is just ruthlessly observing the social norms, attitudes, circumstances and himself.
Naipaul deals with his protagonist and his actions with the most brutal honesty; without giving his actions any justifications, without giving him any benefits of doubts. Just nakedly presenting him as he is.
Ashamed of his father's past and his own origin, Willie goes through experiences which, time and again, make him change his perspective of things, from his father to English society, to the African guerilla movements and his own choices.
Willie's sexual encounters form a sizeable part of his experiences and are most instrumental in defining him, and changing many of his perceptions.
Like all Naipaul books, Half a Life deals with the issues of displacement but is so dark in its narrative that it is not easy to find entertainment in it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to not discuss this book with someone after reading it, to not find a part of oneself in the protagonist. The life this book describes leaves one disturbed and concerned about the way societies work around the world in general.
Definitely not the best fiction from Naipaul, it still is a very powerful and important work from him.