This is my second Naipaul novel. And while I enjoyed his amazingly sparse prose here as much as I did in his earlier In a Free State, the story itself was not nearly as compelling. Naipaul is a master story teller, that is surely evident, as he makes you take note of exactly what develops in this atypical fish out of water scenario, but the characters are lacking depth to dignify much of a feeling one way or another for them.I quite enjoyed the use of parable like stories to make exacting points of the ever so boring characters, but these stories are far too brief and far too far apart from one another to make the rest of the novel a worthwhile read. The front cover also says this is Naipaul at his funniest, and it is true, he paints a very funny morose comedy of errors here, but he so obviously loathes the characters he is writing about, a blacker/bleaker humor would have seemed a bit more apt. And the characters are so serious and unable to laugh at all, let alone at themselves that the humor within is quite a challenge to sift thought at first. That is until it rears up like the cobra from the story that's venom will blind you from 15 feet.