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FINDING THE CENTER - 1984
 

Interestingly, there were many who responded to this autobiographical work with interest. It may have even contributed to a distinct autobiographical slant in Naipaulian criticism. The book is a composite of two distinct narratives: “Prologue to an Autobiography” and “The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro.” Walter C Clemens Jr., reviews the two narratives as distinct works. The Prologue provides “a deep insight into the ways that Naipaul’s personal insecurities, his memories, and his imagination interact to produce both industry and creativity,” while the narrative on the Ivory Coast “denigrates the ability of Ivorians to maintain the modern buildings erected for them by French and Israelis, hc says nothing of the indigenous technocrats who have managed to improve the country’s foreign trade balance even while commodity prices fell.” Peter Sabor found Naipaul’s reasons for putting together the two narratives “flimsy” since the only “underlying reason is that they are by Naipaul.” Sandra Pouchet Paquet in a comparative analyses of Lamming, James, Walcott and Naipaul argues: “The autobiographical act unfolds as a quest for the familial and ethnic roots of his creativity in colonial Trinidad.” Further, “Yet, in its strenuous attempt to remain self-focused rather than representative, Finding the Center reveals an important aspect of East Indian cultural separated-ness within a West Indian cultural milieu.” William Atkinson feels “in "The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro," Naipaul edges his way toward a celebration of what he conceives as the carnivalesque freedom of the African imagination.” Dorsia Smith thinks that as opposed to his essay on Mobutu and his novel A Bend in the River, Naipaul represents a “modern, sophisticated, and wealthy region,” but “displays his ignorance of the real state of the Ivory Coast’s economic affairs because the country was deeply into debt in the 1980s.”