How can you be an atheist and have an ideology to go with it? To be an atheist is to be free of some areas of belief. I don't see how that can become an ideology.

I wondered that clothes, even the apparently revealing tropical clothes I had seen on Yvette, should have concealed so much, should have broken the body up, as it were, into separate parts and not really hinted at the splendour of the whole.

I profoundly feel that people are letting you down all the time.

To be a writer you have to be out in the world, you have to risk yourself in the world, you have to be immersed in the world, you have to go out looking for it. This becomes harder as you get older because there's less energy, the days are shorter for older people and it's not so easy to go out and immerse oneself in the world outside.

Without always knowing what we were doing we were constantly adjusting to the arbitrariness by which we were surrounded.

The biography of a writer - or even the autobiography - will always have this incompleteness.

This is unusual for me. I have given readings and not lectures. I have told people who ask for lectures that I have no lecture to give. And that is true.

The writer is all alone.

I have trusted to intuition. I did it at the beginning. I do it even now. I have no idea how things might turn out, where in my writing I might go next.

Writing has to support itself.

There are certain things that are too painful for people to even write about sometimes, and there are certain things that are too hard to read about again.

The chaos lies all within.

How could people like these, without words to put to their emotions and passions, manage? They could, at best, only suffer dumbly. Their pains and humiliations would work themselves out in their characters alone: like evil spirits possessing a body, so that the body itself might appear innocent of what it did.

There may be some part of the world – dead countries, or secure and by-passed ones – where men can cherish the past and think of passing on furniture and china to their heirs. Men can do that perhaps in Sweden or Canada.

Whenever I have had to write fiction, I've always had to invent a character who roughly has my background.

And that luck was only fate's cheating, giving an illusion of power. But that illusion lingered, and I became restless. I decided to act, to challenge fate. (...) I gained courage; every afternoon I walked a little farther. And one day I got there.

She had a great many opinions , but taken together they did not add up to a point of view .

I had no student friends to talk to about literature. My tutor was a really nice man, very charming - but he had no literary judgment.

Africa has no future.

Perhaps he had made Africa his subject because he had come to Africa and because he was a scholar, used to working with papers, and had found this place full of new papers.

I could meet dreadful people and end up seeing the world through their eyes, seeing their frailties, their needs. You refer to yourself in order to understand other people. That's the novelist's gift, isn't it?

I'm the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.

We couldn't find it in our hearts to find fault with him. We suffered with him.

I knew there was something that separated me from Ferdinand and the life of the bush about me. And it was because I had no means in my day-to-day life of asserting this difference, of exhibiting my true self, that I fell into the stupidity of exhibiting my things.

But everything of value about me is in my books.

Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn't fully formed. I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will - with luck - come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise.

Great writing can be done in biography, history, art.

All landscapes eventually turn to land, the gold of the imagination to the lead of reality.

One must always try to see the truth of a situation - it makes things universal.

And so my satisfactions had only been brothel satisfactions, which hadn't been satisfactions at all.

I would say to her, in that mixed river language we used, ‘One day, Beth, somebody will snatch your case. It isn't safe to travel about with money like that.' ‘The day that happens, Mis' Salim, I will know the time has come to stay home.' It was a strange way of thinking. But she was a strange woman.

I still think it's really quite wonderful when I read a sentence of mine and it has that quality of lastingness.

It was as Nazruddin had said, when I asked him about visas and he had said that bank notes were better. 'You can always get into those places. What is hard is to get out. That is a private fight. Everybody has to find his own way.

Judgment is contained in the act of trying to understand.

His ignorance seemed to widen with everything he read.

How ridiculous were the attentions the weak paid one another in the shadow of the strong!

It was a good place for getting lost in, a city no one ever knew, a city explored from the neutral heart outward, until after many years, it defined itself into a jumble of clearings separated by stretches of the unknown, through which the narrowest of paths had been cut.

Life is helluva thing. You can see trouble coming and you can't do a damn thing to prevent it coming. You just got to sit and watch and wait.

The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.

It made smuggling easy; but I was nervous of getting involved, because a government that breaks its own laws can also easily break you.

I am the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.

Whatever they say about going back to the beginning, they’ll be interested in the car.

Small things can start us off in new ways of thinking, and I was started off by the postage stamps of our area.

More than England to the British West Indian or even Holland to the Surinamer, France is the mother country to the Martiniquan.

We made no inquiries about India or about the families people had left behind. When our ways of thinking had changed, and we wished to know, it was too late. I know nothing of the people on my father's side; I know only that some of them came from Nepal.

I have always moved by intuition alone. I have no system, literary or political. I have no guiding political idea.

Life is a helluva thing. You can see trouble coming and you can't do a damn thing to prevent it coming. You just got to sit and watch and wait.

It was a light which gave solidity to everything and drew colour out from the heart of objects.

Well, India is a country of nonsense. M. K. Gandhi.