The world has lost a literary genius in the passing away of Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul—the Trinidad-born, Indian origin writer. A colossal author, VS Naipaul, as he was popularly known, started off with comic novels set in Trinidad and Tobago and later moved to touching yet cynical accounts, both autobiographical and essays.
A prolific writer, VS Naipaul wrote more than 30 books in his long literary career and was the recipient of the prestigious Book Prize in 1971 as also the elusive Nobel Prize in Literature much later in 2001.
VS Naipaul was controversy’s child, whether it was through his writings that highlighted the contradictions of postcolonial world, his inherent dislike for India (which had something to do with his feeling of displacement) and Islam, or through his deliberate utterances. He once famously said, “If a writer doesn’t generate hostility, he is dead.” These are just one of many of his blatant criticisms. He didn’t even spare the great writer Earnest Hemmingway when he said this about him, ‘He was so busy being an American that he didn’t know where he was,” or when he called Henry James “the worst writer in the world.”
His misogyny was apparent in many of his utterances too. He was known for his temper and for his melancholic personality.
But, no one can take away the rich and intense prose he wrote. While he won many enemies, he also won over people who admired his work, which were penetrating, at times, dark, yet laced with a simplicity that would win any reader’s heart.
Tributes have been pouring in for the departed 85-year-old author. Ironically, Salman Rushdie, who also found himself facing the wrath of Naipaul, tweeted a soulful message. It said, ‘We disagreed all our lives, about politics, about literature, and I feel as said as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RPI Vidia.’
VS Naipaul’s Famous Books:
A House for Mr Biswas
A Bend in the River
In a Free State
The Enigma of Arrival
Half a Life
Among the Believers
India: A Million Mutinies
Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples