In many ways, Among the Believers is vintage Naipaul in the Third World: the blighted human landscape of suburban sprawl and shanties, the dingy offices, the self-serving petty bureaucrats, the bland propagators of myth, the unpredictable transportation systems, the anticipated relief at eventual escape from the horror of it all. True to his craft, Naipaul is rarely dull, although there are more languid passages in this work than in its predecessors, and he displays his usual skill in capturing the personalities and conversation of those whom he meets. Predictably, he is sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued, characteristics which have always won for him both admirers and enemies, who can find in this book material either to reaffirm their admiration or to reinforce their distaste. On the other hand, Naipaul approaches the Islamic world with all the prejudices and all the predilections toward stereotypical judgments of the least sensitive of Western travelers: He does not come in order to learn and to understand, but to have his presuppositions confirmed, to find what he knew he would find before he ever embarked on the journey. There is an animosity toward Islam—greater even than the animosity which he appears to feel for the Third World in general—which pervades the entire book. Reviewers have commented extensively on this trait, noting that had he written with such malice toward Christianity or Judaism the applause of his aficionados in Europe or America would...
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