Originally published in 1987 and taking its title from the strangely frozen picture by the surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, The Enigma of Arrival is the story of a young Indian from Trinidad arriving in post-imperial England and consciously, over many years, finding himself as a writer. Finding depth and pathos in the smallest moments—the death of a cottager, the firing of an estate's gardener—it is perhaps the Nobel Prize–winning author's most autobiographical work. Yet V.S. Naipaul also weaves a rich and complex web of invention and observation, as the old world is lost to the gradual but permanent changes wrought on the English landscape in the guise of progress.
"The conclusion is both heart-breaking and bracing: the only antidote to destruction—of dreams, of reality—is remembering. As eloquently as anyone now writing, Naipaul remembers."—Time