Half a Life Background

Half a Life Background

Half a Life is a novel written by V.S. Naipaul in 2001. The novel revolves around the story of Willie Somerset Chandran, whose father is a Brahmin from the Hindu caste system and his mother a Dalit. Willie's middle name 'Somerset' comes from the name of an English writer called Somerset Maugham who had visited Willie's father in a temple once. Willie has a strained relationship with his father and decides to leave India so as to go and study in London, England. He lives the life of a poor immigrant whilst in London but later writes a book and manages to publish it. The publishing of his book leads to Willie receiving a letter from a fan called Ana, who admires the book and wants to meet Willie. Ana and Willie fall in love and Willie goes back with Ana to her homeland in Africa. The novel ends with Willie leaving his 18 year stay in Africa and going to live with his sister in Berlin.

The book was written by the author to explore the life of an immigrant living in London and how they come to adapt to their circumstances. The author also wanted to explore how this can lead to a prosperous future and even allow one to fall in love.

The novel was received well by critics and fans alike. In fact, The Observer commented that V.S. Naipaul is "without peer" and is a "fine...writer". The novel was also long listed for the Man Booker Prize.

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