The Masque of Africa

Glimpses of African Belief

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Understanding Africa is critical for all concerned with the world today: in what promises to be his final great work of reportage, one of the keenest observers of the continent surveys the effects of belief and religion on the disparate peoples of Africa.

The Masque of Africa is Nobel Prize-winning V. S. Naipaul's first major work of non-fiction to be published since his internationally bestselling Beyond Belief. Like all of Naipaul's great works of non-fiction, The Masque of Africa is superficially a book of travels — full of people, stories and landscapes he visits — but it also encompasses a larger narrative and purpose: to judge the effects of belief (whether in indigenous animisms, faiths imposed by other cultures, or even the cults of leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of civilization.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter 1
The Tomb at Kasubi
I spent eight to nine months in East Africa in 1966. A month in Tanzania; six weeks or so in the Kenya Highlands; the rest of the time in Uganda. Some years later I even used a version of Uganda in a piece of fiction; you can do that only when you feel...
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A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
“You don’t have to agree with Naipaul, or find his point of view pleasant, to acknowledge his powers of observation and storytelling. Both friends and foes will find much to be moved by in this work.”
Alexandra Fuller, The Globe and Mail
“Naipaul is willing to express a new attitude, one of self-doubt. This acknowledgment of human frailty—starting with his own—broadens his observational powers immeasurably.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“This beautiful and humane book . . . achieves a kind of majesty.”
—Harper’s Magazine
“Engaging work. . . . Naipaul’s prose remains smooth, subtle, often silvery.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“Ever fair-minded, soberly reflective and conciliatory, Naipaul offers his sage observations in the hope that by learning more, we accept greater.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A sharply written and engrossing exploration.”
—Library Journal

From the Hardcover edition.