A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

This month’s edition of Between The Lines yielded a discussion about A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul. On the 16th of October, we saw attendees of all ages flock to the light of Gyaan Adab’s space out of the dim evening for the session. This was the one talk in an on-going series of events that seeks to present and analyse literature. 

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, commonly known as V.S.Naipaul was a Trinidadian-British writer popularly known for his fiction and non-fiction work. His breakthrough novel, A House for Mr. Biswas was published in 1961. The novel is the story of Mohun Biswas who constantly strives for success, but mostly fails. He marries into the Tulsi family only to end up being dominated  by it, and who finally sets the goal of owning his own house.

The talk was hosted by Dr. Prashant Sinha,a former professor and Head of Department of English, University of Pune. He has 7 books and over 30 articles to his credit. 

Dr. Prashant Sinha began with a concise introduction to the life of Naipaul, touching upon subjects like his relationship with his father and nationality to further the context in which the text was written. A summary of the book followed, in which he outlined the basic plot of the book. 

After a brief conversation about his writing style, political and social sentiments, the speaker then moved into a deeper analysis about the book, analyzing the characters to greater depths while highlighting their uniquely universal flaws and values. The character of the Mohun Biswas, the titular protagonist, is fashioned about Naipaul’s own father, Seepersad Naipaul, and the relationship between a father and his son is explored in the book. 

An intimate discourse then took over the talk, as the attendees began to engage with Dr. Sinha and his analysis, informally ending the session as they created various pockets of conversation.

Nityaasha Foundation