V. S. Naipaul
|V. S. Naipaul|
17 August 1932 |
Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago
|Occupation||Novelist, travel writer, essayist|
|Literary movement||Postcolonialism, realism|
|Notable work(s)||A House for Mr. Biswas
A Bend in the River
The Enigma of Arrival
In a Free State
|Notable award(s)||Booker Prize
Nobel Prize in Literature
Patricia Hale (1955 - 1996)Nadira Naipaul (1996 - present)
Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad "V. S." Naipaul, TC (born 17 August 1932) is a Trinidadian-British writer of Indo-Trinidadian heritage of Bhumihar Brahmin12 known for his novels focusing on the legacy of the British Empire's colonialism. He has also written works of non-fiction, such as travel writing and essays.
In 2001, Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.3 He has been awarded numerous other literary prizes, including the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (1958), the Somerset Maugham Award (1960), the Hawthornden Prize (1964), the WH Smith Literary Award (1968), the Booker Prize (1971), the Jerusalem Prize (1983) and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in British Literature (1993).
J. M. Coetzee, writing in The New York Review of Books in 2001, described Naipaul as "a master of modern English prose".4 In 2008, The Times ranked Naipaul seventh on their list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".5
Naipaul was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago, to parents of Indian descent.1 He is the son, older brother, uncle, and cousin of published authors Seepersad Naipaul, Shiva Naipaul, Neil Bissoondath, and Vahni Capildeo, respectively. His current wife is Nadira Naipaul, a former Pakistani journalist.
Naipaul was married to the Englishwoman Patricia Hale for 41 years, until her death from cancer in 1996. According to an authorised biography by Patrick French, the two shared a close relationship when it came to Naipaul's work—Pat was a sort of unofficial editor for Naipaul—but the marriage was not a happy one in other respects.6 Naipaul regularly visited prostitutes in London, and later had a long-term abusive affair with another married woman, Margaret Gooding, of which his wife was aware.7
Prior to Hale's death, Naipaul proposed to Nadira Naipaul, a divorced Pakistani journalist, born Nadira Khannum Alvi. They were married two months after Hale's death, at which point Naipaul also abruptly ended his affair with Gooding. Nadira Naipaul had worked as a journalist for the Pakistani newspaper, The Nation, for ten years before meeting Naipaul. She was divorced twice before her marriage to Naipaul and has two children from a previous marriage, Maliha Naipaul and Nadir.8
Naipaul insists that his writing transcends any particular ideological outlook, remarking that "to have a political view is to be prejudiced. I don't have a political view." His supporters often perceive him as offering a mordant critique of many left-liberal pieties while his detractors, such as cultural critic Edward Said and poet Derek Walcott accuse him of being a neo-colonial apologist.10 He has also excoriated Tony Blair as a "pirate" at the head of "a socialist revolution", a man who was "destroying the idea of civilisation in this country" and had created "a plebeian culture".11
In March 2002, Salman Rushdie denounced Naipaul for supporting the RSS, VHP and BJP led Indian government on the anti-Muslim 2002 Gujarat riots: Rushdie said Naipaul was "a fellow traveller of fascism and [he] disgraces the Nobel award".12
Naipaul is a strict vegetarian.13
Naipaul attracted media controversy with statements about women he made in a May 2011 interview at the Royal Geographic Society, expressing his view that women's writing was inferior to men's, and that there was no female writer whom he would consider his equal. Naipaul stated that women's writing was "quite different", reflecting women's "sentimentality, the narrow view of the world". He had previously criticised leading female Indian authors writing about the legacy of colonialism for the "banality" of their work.14
In awarding Naipaul the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy praised his work "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories." The Committee added, "Naipaul is a modern philosophe carrying on the tradition that started originally with Lettres persanes and Candide. In a vigilant style, which has been deservedly admired, he transforms rage into precision and allows events to speak with their own inherent irony." The Committee also noted Naipaul's affinity with the novelist Joseph Conrad:
Naipaul is Conrad's heir as the annalist of the destinies of empires in the moral sense: what they do to human beings. His authority as a narrator is grounded in the memory of what others have forgotten, the history of the vanquished.
His fiction and especially his travel writing have been criticised for their allegedly unsympathetic portrayal of the Third World. Literary critic Edward Said, for example, argues that Naipaul "allowed himself quite consciously to be turned into a witness for the Western prosecution", promoting what Said classifies as "colonial mythologies about wogs and darkies".15 Said believes that Naipaul's worldview may be most salient in the author's book-length essay The Middle Passage, which Naipaul composed after returning to the Caribbean after ten years of exile in England, and the work An Area of Darkness.
The actual world has for Naipaul a radiance that diminishes all ideas of it. The pink haze of the bauxite dust on the first page of Guerrillas tells us what we need to know about the history and social organization of the unnamed island on which the action takes place, tells us in one image who runs the island and for whose profit the island is run and at what cost to the life of the island this profit has historically been obtained, but all of this implicit information pales in the presence of the physical fact, the dust itself... The world Naipaul sees is of course no void at all: it is a world dense with physical and social phenomena, brutally alive with the complications and contradictions of actual human endeavour... This world of Naipaul's is in fact charged with what can only be described as a romantic view of reality, an almost unbearable tension between the idea and the physical fact...
In 1998 a controversial memoir by Naipaul's sometime protégé Paul Theroux was published. The book provides a personal, though occasionally caustic portrait of Naipaul. The memoir, entitled Sir Vidia's Shadow, was precipitated by a falling-out between the two men a few years earlier.citation needed Theroux supposedly blamed Naipaul's second wife, Nadira Naipaul, for driving the two apart.18
In 2002, Kris Rampersad released Finding A Place, a ground breaking study that gives context to much of Naipaul's perspectives on colonialism, the Caribbean and Trinidad and Tobago, placing his writings within the context of some 200 years' gestation in Trinidad and its peculiar social, economic, political and literary evolution. She argues that the society's complex oral and literary antecedents propelled his acclamation as a 20th century Lord of the English language and that his, and his predecessors including his father Seepersad Naipaul, legislator/authors as F.E.M Hosein, Dennis Mahabir, and near contemporaries as Samuel Selvon and Ismith Khan's early experiences of journalism on the island influenced their leanings towards expanding the literary tradition in social realism tradition. Naipaul himself credited this work in a meeting with Rampersad on his visit to Trinidad in 2007, acknowledging that Finding a Place revealed aspects of writings by his father. In early 2007, V. S. Naipaul made a long-awaited return to his homeland of Trinidad. He urged citizens to shrug off the notions of "Indian" and "African" and to concentrate on being "Trinidadian".citation needed In 2008, writer Patrick French released the first authorised biography of Naipaul, which was serialised in The Daily Telegraph.619
- The Mystic Masseur – (1957) (film version: The Mystic Masseur (2001))
- The Suffrage of Elvira – (1958)
- Miguel Street – (1959)
- A House for Mr Biswas – (1961)
- Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion – (1963)
- The Mimic Men – (1967)
- A Flag on the Island – (1967)
- In a Free State – (1971): Booker prize
- Guerrillas – (1975)
- A Bend in the River – (1979)
- The Enigma of Arrival – (1987)
- A Way in the World – (1994)
- Half a Life – (2001)
- The Nightwatchman's Occurrence Book: And Other Comic Inventions (Stories) – (2002)
- Magic Seeds – (2004)
- The Middle Passage: Impressions of Five Societies – British, French and Dutch in the West Indies and South America (1962)
- An Area of Darkness (1964)
- The Loss of El Dorado – (1969)
- The Overcrowded Barracoon and Other Articles (1972)
- India: A Wounded Civilization (1977)
- A Congo Diary (1980)
- The Return of Eva Perón and the Killings in Trinidad (1980)
- Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981)
- Finding the Centre – (1984)
- A Turn in the South (1989)
- India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990)
- Homeless by Choice (1992, with R. Jhabvala and Salman Rushdie)
- Bombay (1994, with Raghubir Singh)
- Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples (1998)
- Between Father and Son: Family Letters (1999, edited by Gillon Aitken)
- Reading & Writing: A Personal Account (2000)
- The Writer and the World: Essays – (2002)
- Literary Occasions: Essays (2003, by Pankaj Mishra)
- A Writer's People: Ways of Looking and Feeling (2007)
- The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief (2010)20
- Athill, Diana (2000) Stet. An Editor's Life (Grove Press)
- Schutte, Gillian (2010) Behind Sir Vidia’s Masque: The Night the Naipauls Came to Supper (Book Southern Africa).
- Girdharry, Arnold (2004) The Wounds of Naipaul and the Women in His Indian Trilogy (Copley).
- Barnouw, Dagmar (2003) Naipaul's Strangers (Indiana University Press).
- Dissanayake, Wimal (1993) Self and Colonial Desire: Travel Writings of V.S. Naipaul (P. Lang).
- French, Patrick (2008) The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul (Random House)
- Hamner, Robert (1973). V.S. Naipaul (Twayne).
- Hammer, Robert ed. (1979) Critical Perspectives on V.S. Naipaul (Heinemann).
- Hayward, Helen (2002) The Enigma of V.S. Naipaul: Sources and Contexts (Macmillan).
- Hughes, Peter (1988) V.S. Naipaul (Routledge).
- Jarvis, Kelvin (1989) V.S. Naipaul: A Selective Bibliography with Annotations, 1957–1987 (Scarecrow).
- Jussawalla, Feroza, ed. (1997) Conversations with V.S. Naipaul (University Press of Mississippi).
- Kelly, Richard (1989) V.S. Naipaul (Continuum).
- Khan, Akhtar Jamal (1998) V.S. Naipaul: A Critical Study (Creative Books)
- King, Bruce (1993) V.S. Naipaul (Macmillan).
- King, Bruce (2003) V.S. Naipaul, 2nd ed (Macmillan)
- Kramer, Jane (13 April 1980) From the Third World, an assessment of Naipaul's work in the New York Times Book Review.
- Levy, Judith (1995) V.S. Naipaul: Displacement and Autobiography (Garland).
- Nightingale, Peggy (1987) Journey through Darkness: The Writing of V.S. Naipaul (University of Queensland Press).
- Said, Edward (1986) Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World (Salmagundi).
- Theroux, Paul (1998) Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin).
- Theroux, Paul (1972). V.S. Naipaul: An Introduction to His Work (Deutsch).
- Weiss, Timothy F (1992) On the Margins: The Art of Exile in V.S. Naipaul (University of Massachusetts Press).
- "Naipaul's anger at Indian writers". BBC News (BBC). 22 February 2002. Retrieved 22 February 2002.
- "Karnad takes on Naipaul, calls him 'tone-deaf'". News Track India. 2012-11-03. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- "The Nobel Prize in Literature 2001". Nobelprize.org.
- Coetzee, J. M. (2001). The New York Review of Books. Quote: "Naipaul is a master of English prose, and the prose of Half a Life is as clean and cold as a knife."
- "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". The Times (London). 5 January 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
- Reynolds, Nigel (27 March 2008). "Sir Vidia Naipaul admits his cruelty may have killed wife". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 27 March 2008.
- French, Patrick (22 March 2008). "Sex, truth and Vidia: Patrick French's biography of VS Naipaul". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Balbir K. Punj (21 January 2003). "There was life before Islam". The Asian Age. Retrieved 21 January 2003.
- "Ex-Pak Army officer served as Lakhvi's adviser: Report". The Indian Express. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
- Wheatcroft, Geoffrey (February 2002). "A Terrifying Honesty: V. S. Naipaul is certainly no liberal—and herein lies his importance". The Atlantic.
- Wheatcroft, Geoffrey (4 August 2001). "V S Naipaul: Scourge of the liberals". The Independent (London). Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Religion, as ever, is the poison in India's blood: Salman Rushdie on new horrors in the name of God". The Guardian. 9 March 2002. Retrieved 9 March 2002.
- Fallon, Amy (2 June 2011). "VS Naipaul finds no woman writer his literary match – not even Jane Austen. Nobel laureate says there is no female author whom he considers his equal". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2011. His views generated wide criticism from writers and literary experts all over the world. As, Shashi Deshpande rightly pointed out 'All writers know that literature is not a matter of competition'. Reference: The Hindu
- Said, Edward W (1 March 2002). "Edward Said on Naipaul". Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- Didion, Joan (12 June 1980). "Without Regret or Hope". The New York Review of Books.
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter N". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
- Miller, Marjorie (12 October 2001). "The World; V.S. Naipaul Receives Nobel for Literature". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
- Meaney, Thomas (12 November 2008). "A Delicate Look at a Prickly Man". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
- Meaney, Thomas (September/October/November 2010). "Blood Animus:V. S. Naipaul looks at Africa through its indigenous religions". Book Forum.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: V. S. Naipaul|
- Nobel Lecture: Two Worlds at NobelPrize.org
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- V. S. Naipaul on Charlie Rose
- V. S. Naipaul at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about V. S. Naipaul in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- V. S. Naipaul collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- V. S. Naipaul at the Notable Names Database
- V. S. Naipaul at the Open Directory Project
- Jonathan Rosen, Tarun Tejpal (Fall 1998). "V. S. Naipaul, The Art of Fiction No. 154". The Paris Review.
- Editing Vidia, Diana Athill, Granta, a memoir of Naipaul by his editor
- A literary Brown Sahib