V S Naipaul considered A House for Mr Biswas his first serious fiction and his best-known. He wrote it at the end of the Fifties, as he was approaching thirty. The setting is Naipaul's native Trinidad but Mohun Biswas (called 'Mr' from childhood) is about a decade older than him. Indeed, Biswas dies in early middle age.
There is a Dickensian element to the structure. Biswas's lifetime quest is to secure a house of his own and the story is divided into chapters around his housing status through life. Biswas is a clown and a bit of a blowhard, who rises to a job as staff reporter on a Port of Spain newspaper and an unsecured social worker in a postwar community project. Naipaul was a professional writer from his student days at Oxford and became a dreadful snob, pompous and opinionated. Perhaps that came after he wrote Biswas because the 600-page book never becomes boring or didactic. It is, in short, a traditional English comic novel set entirely in Trinidad.
I had never read Naipaul before Biswas and it may be I never read him again. But I thoroughly enjoyed this.