Half A Life

Half a Life
by V. S. Naipaul

One of the finest living writers in the English language, V. S. Naipaul gives us a tale as wholly unexpected as it is affecting, his first novel since the exultantly acclaimed A Way in the World, published seven years ago.

Half a Life is the story of Willie Chandran, whose father, heeding the call of Mahatma Gandhi, turned his back on his brahmin heritage and married a woman of low caste—a disastrous union he would live to regret, as he would the children that issued from it. When Willie reaches manhood, his flight from the travails of his mixed birth takes him from India to London, where, in the shabby haunts of immigrants and literary bohemians of the 1950s, he contrives a new identity. This is what happens as he tries to defeat self-doubt in sexual adventures and in the struggle to become a writer—strivings that bring him to the brink of exhaustion, from which he is rescued, to his amazement, only by the love of a good woman. And this is what happens when he returns with her—carried along, really—to her home in Africa, to live, until the last doomed days of colonialism, yet another life not his own.

In a luminous narrative that takes us across three continents, Naipaul explores his great theme of inheritance with an intimacy and directness unsurpassed in his extraordinary body of work. And even as he lays bare the bitter comical ironies of assumed identities, he gives us a poignant spectacle of the enervation peculiar to a borrowed life. In one man’s determined refusal of what he has been given to be, Naipaul reveals the way of all our experience. As Willie comes to see, “Everything goes on a bias. The world should stop, but it goes on.” A masterpiece of economy and emotional nuance, Half a Life is an indelible feat of the imagination.

From the Hardcover edition.


Half a Life
by Darin Strauss

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey—graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

Look for special features inside, including an interview with Colum McCann.


Half a Life
by Jill Ciment

Jill Ciment weaves an unforgettable tale of survival, compassion, and courage, in this haunting recollection of a child surrounded by confusion and madness, and her struggle to find an identity.

  Half a Life  traces Jill Ciment’s family from Toronto to the California desert – -a landscape and culture so alien to her father that the last vestiges of sanity leave him.  As madness engulfs him he becomes increasingly brutal and the family, grasping at survival, throws him out the door.  Having no understanding that he has done anything wrong, he first lives in his car at the end of the driveway, waiting to be invited back in, before exiting completely from their lives.

Poor and fatherless, Ciment spends the years from age fourteen to seventeen, as a gang girl, a professional forger, a stripper, a corporate spy, and finally, a high school dropout who by age eighteen has seduced her art teacher, a man  nearly three decades her senior and bluffed her way into college in an effort to shape a  future.  

Ciment is cutting, insightful and clearly unapologetic as she details the confusion and bravado of a child heroine whose dreams and tenacity allow her finally, to create the life she has been so desperately seeking.


Becoming a Man
by Paul Monette

The National Book Award–winning coming-out memoir. “One of the most complex, moral, personal, and political books to have been written about gay life” (LA Weekly).

Paul Monette grew up all-American, Catholic, overachieving . . . and closeted. As a child of the 1950s, a time when a kid suspected of being a “homo” would routinely be beaten up, Monette kept his secret throughout his adolescence. He wrestled with his sexuality for the first thirty years of his life, priding himself on his ability to “pass” for straight. The story of his journey to adulthood and to self-acceptance with grace and honesty, this intimate portrait of a young man’s struggle with his own desires is witty, humorous, and deeply felt.

Before his death of complications from AIDS in 1995, Monette was an outspoken activist crusading for gay rights. Becoming a Man shows his courageous path to stand up for his own right to love and be loved.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Paul Monette including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the Paul Monette papers of the UCLA Library Special Collections.


Half a Creature from the Sea
by Almond David

May Malone is said to have a monster in her house, but what Norman finds there may just be the angel he needs. Joe Quinn’s house is noisy with poltergeists, or could it be Davie’s raging causing the disturbance? Fragile Annie learns the truth about herself in a photograph taken by a traveling man near the sea. Set in the northern English Tyneside country of the author’s childhood, these eight short stories by the incomparable David Almond evoke gritty realities and ineffable longings, experiences both ordinary and magical. In autobiographical preludes to each story, the writer shows how all things can be turned into tales, reflecting on a time of wonder, tenderness, and joy.

Half A Life-Time Ago
by Elizabeth Gaskell

Popular nineteenth-century writer Elizabeth Gaskell packed her fiction with the kind of riveting social details that keep contemporary readers and fans of historical drama glued to the page. This collection of short stories offers a comprehensive introduction to her body of work, which rivaled Dickens’ in terms of popularity at the height of her career.

A Study Guide for V.S. Naipaul’s “Half a Life”
by Gale, Cengage Learning

A Study Guide for V.S. Naipaul’s "Half a Life," excerpted from Gale’s acclaimed Novels for Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Novels for Students for all of your research needs.

Life and a Half
by Sony Lab’Ou Tansi

Listed as one of the 100 best books on Africa, Life and a Half was Sony Labou Tansi’s response to the death of close friends during a bloody military and political crackdown in Congo. The novel takes place in an imaginary African country run by the latest in a series of cannibalistic dictators who has captured Martial, the leader of the opposition, and his family. Though shot, knifed, butchered, and bled, Martial’s spirit lives on to guide his followers in their fight against the dictators. Facing censorship, Tansi insisted that his book was a fable and that if he were ever given the opportunity to write about real events, he would be much more direct rather than follow the torturous paths of a novel. This crisp translation by Alison Dundy maintains the fast-paced action and bitingly satiric tone of the original.


Half a Life
by George Webbe Dasent

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts – the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.


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