A Bend in the River - V.S. Naipaul

I have admittedly read very little African literature. Yet I feel as though this book seemed to capture the essence of the countries repeatedly torn apart by civil war. The main character is a man who comes to a village to run a store and make his way in the world. He arrives right after a war has finished that destroyed the economy of the village. There is a period of rebuilding and prosperity that is merely illusory and then is crushed again under another war. The man sees his investment grow and then shrink. He makes and loses friends and lovers. All because of the stress of the rebellions and impending wars. Eventually he leaves and goes to Europe. The feeling you get from the book is that no matter how hard you try to build a life for yourself, it will be taken from you and the only way to build a life is to leave Africa. But even when you leave, you cannot escape.

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