A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul
Salim, an Indian Muslim raised in Africa, opens a small store on the Congo River, deep in Africa. What begins as a pleasant enough small town, populated by whites, Indians, and Africans alike, is plunged into chaos after an enigmatic and powerful leader, the Big Man, takes over from a colonial government. First published in 1979, Naipaul’s novel is complex and dark: can formally colonized nations ever be made healthy again? Are African leaders inherently better at ruling African countries? How does corruption and hypocrisy enter the political and personal realm? Naipaul, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, may be a skeptical observer of human nature, but he is also a poetic and passionate author who deserves to be read.