Troy Patterson
November 19, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Magic Seeds

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
V.S. Naipaul
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Continuing the story of 2001’s Half a Life, Nobel winner V.S. Naipaul charts the political awakening (and subsequent spiritual coma) of Willie Chandran. Goaded into action by his radical sister, Willie — a self-exiled native of India and hugely complacent middle-aged slacker — returns home to join a left-wing guerrilla army. He begins gun-running and fomenting peasant revolt, but his role in one bloody act convinces him, ”I am among absolute maniacs.” Too static to be much of a thriller and often too schematic to draw us fully to its hero’s heart, Magic Seeds nonetheless offers a gripping glimpse at the sadness of a dream deformed.

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