Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, known for ‘A Bend in the River’ and other novels, dies at 85 – National

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V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidad-born Nobel laureate whose exact and lyrical writing in such novels as “A Bend within the River” and “A Home for Mr. Biswas” and brittle, misanthropic persona made him one of many world’s most admired and contentious writers, died Saturday at his London house, his household stated. He was 85.

His spouse, Nadira Naipaul, stated he was “a large in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by these he beloved having lived a life which was filled with great creativity and endeavor.”

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Naipaul’s work mirrored his private journey from Trinidad to London and varied stops in creating nations. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories.”

In a unprecedented profession spanning half a century, Naipaul traveled as a self-described “barefoot colonial” from his rural childhood to higher class England, and was hailed as one of many best writers of the 20th century. From “A Bend within the River” to “The Enigma of Arrival” to “Discovering the Centre,” Naipaul’s books explored colonialism and decolonization, exile and the struggles of the everyman within the creating world.

He was important of colonialism, however set himself other than any social actions. He noticed himself as a realist, cured of illusions, his outlook outlined by the well-known opening phrases of “A Bend within the River” that turned the title of a licensed biography by Patrick French: “The world is what it’s.”

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He was equally skeptical of faith and politics, of idealism of any sort, whether or not revolutionary uprisings or of quests for paradise reminiscent of Sir Walter Raleigh’s seek for the non-existent El Dorado.

“For those who come from the New World, as I in massive measure do, you see all of the absurd fantasies individuals have taken there and the troubles they’ve wrought because of this,” Naipaul instructed The Related Press in 2000. “We weren’t given a correct historical past of the New World itself. This was not out of wickedness. It was out of ignorance, out of indifference, out of the emotions that the historical past of this very small island was not necessary. These elements one needed to be taught and writing took me there. One didn’t start with information. One wrote oneself into information.”

Naipaul prided himself on his candor, however he had a protracted historical past of offensive remarks. Amongst his extensively quoted feedback: He known as India a “slave society,” quipped that Africa has no future, and defined that Indian ladies put on a coloured dot on their foreheads to say “my head is empty.” He laughed off the 1989 fatwa by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in opposition to Salman Rushdie as “an excessive type of literary criticism.”


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The critic Terry Eagleton as soon as stated of Naipaul: “Nice artwork, dreadful politics.” Caribbean Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott complained that the creator’s prose was tainted by his “repulsion in the direction of Negroes.”

C. L. R. James, a fellow Trinidadian author, put it in another way: Naipaul’s views, he wrote, merely mirrored “what the whites wish to say however dare not.”

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul — Vidia to those that knew him — was born on Aug. 17, 1932 in Trinidad, a descendant of impoverished Indians shipped to the West Indies as bonded laborers.

His father was an aspiring, self-taught novelist whose ambitions have been killed by lack of alternative; the son was decided to go away his homeland as quickly as he might. In later years, he would repeatedly reject his birthplace as little greater than a plantation.

“I used to be born there, sure,” he stated of Trinidad to an interviewer in 1983. “I believed it was an awesome mistake.”

In 1950, Naipaul was awarded one of some accessible authorities scholarships to review in England, and he left his household to start his research in English literature at College Faculty, Oxford.

There he met his first spouse, Patricia Hale, whom he married in 1955 with out telling his household.

This 2001 file photograph exhibits British creator V.S. Naipaul in Salisbury, England. (Chris Ison/PA by way of AP)

After commencement, Naipaul suffered a interval of poverty and unemployment: he was asthmatic, ravenous and relying on his spouse for revenue. Regardless of his Oxford schooling, he discovered himself surrounded by a hostile, xenophobic London.

“These individuals wish to break my spirit … They need me to know my place,” he wrote bitterly to his spouse.

Naipaul ultimately landed a radio job working for BBC World Service, the place he mentioned West Indian literature and located his footing as a author. His breakthrough got here in 1957 along with his first printed novel “The Mystic Masseur,” a humorous guide in regards to the lives of powerless individuals in a Trinidad ghetto.

Naipaul caught the attention of guide reviewers, and in 1959 he received the Somerset Maugham Award with the story assortment “Miguel Avenue.” In 1961, Naipaul printed the celebrated “A Home for Mr. Biswas.” That novel, about how one man’s life was restricted by the bounds of colonial society, was a tribute to Naipaul’s father.

“If he had been born in one other tradition, not a colonial agricultural society, his expertise would have given him an affordable likelihood someplace and he would have flourished,” Naipaul instructed the AP in 2000. “A part of his pathos was that he was born within the unsuitable place.”

Within the years that adopted, Naipaul was to journey for in depth intervals to pen journalistic essays and journey books. He flew thrice to India, his ancestral house, to put in writing about its tradition and politics. He hung out in Buenos Aires, Argentina to put in writing about its former First Woman Eva Peron, and went to Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia for books about Islam.

Years earlier than the Sept. 11, 2001 assaults, Naipaul devoted consideration to Islamic radicalism in books together with “Among the many Believers” and “Past Perception.”

In its Nobel quotation, the Swedish Academy known as him “a literary circumnavigator, solely ever actually at house in himself.”

Naipaul’s nonfiction typically provoked a lot anger, and plenty of have been offended by his views about Islam and India — Rushdie, for instance, thought Naipaul was selling Hindu nationalism.

He additionally continued to publish award-winning novels. “The Mimic Males” received the W.H. Smith Award in 1967, and in 1971 “In a Free State,” a meditation on colonialism in Africa, was awarded the Booker Prize.

Africa additionally supplied the setting for his 1979 novel “A Bend within the River.” His lifetime of journey and transitions was mirrored within the 1987 novel “The Enigma of Arrival,” which some thought-about his masterpiece.

Naipaul acquired a knighthood in 1990, and in 2001 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

As his literary stature grew, so did his fame as a troublesome, irascible persona. Naipaul was a non-public man and didn’t have many buddies, however his private life entered the general public area when the American author Paul Theroux, a one-time good friend whose relationship with Naipaul turned bitter, printed a stinging memoir about Naipaul in 1998.

“Sir Vidia’s Shadow” described Naipaul as a racist, sexist miser who threw terrifying tantrums and beat up ladies.

Naipaul ignored Theroux’s guide, however he did authorize a candid biography that confirmed a few of Theroux’s claims. The biography, printed in 2008, devoted chapters to how Naipaul met and callously handled his mistress, an Anglo-Argentine lady who was married and a couple of decade youthful than he was. It recalled Naipaul’s confession to The New Yorker that he purchased intercourse and was a “nice prostitute man,” and recorded Naipaul’s frank and disturbing feedback on how that destroyed his spouse, Hale, who died of breast most cancers in 1996.

“It could possibly be stated that I had killed her,” he instructed biographer Patrick French. “I really feel slightly bit that approach.”

This 2001 file photograph exhibits British creator V.S. Naipaul in Salisbury, England. (Chris Ison/PA by way of AP)

Two months after Hale died, Naipaul married his second spouse, Pakistani newspaper columnist Nadira Khannum Alvi. Naipaul’s later books misplaced their playful humor, and a few say a lot of their attraction.

He spent a lot of his time residing quietly in an remoted cottage in Wiltshire, within the English countryside.



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