There is much to say about V.S. Naipaul.
Some grand. Some not so grand.
His reaction towards women writers strongly provoked me. It made me think long and hard on whether I wanted to give space to a man with such misogynist attitudes towards women writers.
In reading his essays Literary Occasions, and the various interviews he gave I came to understand how great a literary giant he is and that, if I was to write this post, I needed to separate V.S. Naipaul, the man from V.S. Naipaul, the writer.
Naipaul the man
Women writers “unequal to me” says V S Naipaul
Such is the headline in The Bookseller where Naipaul goes on to say, “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think (it is) unequal to me.”
Lylia M. Alphone, the senior editor at Yahoo responded by asking readers whether they could tell whether certain paragraphs were written by men or women.
See if you too can tell whether a book is written by a man or a woman by taking this fun test.
Naipaul has not only been criticized for his misogynist comments but his biographer, Patrick French, portrayed him as racist as well.
Naipaul the Writer
For the first four days it rained. I could hardly see where I was. Then it stopped raining and beyond the lawn and outbuildings in front of my cottage I saw fields with stripped trees on the boundaries of each field; and far away, depending on the light, glints of a little river, glints which sometimes appeared, oddly, to be above the level of the land.
The opening of his masterpiece The Enigma of Arrival.
V.S. Naipaul has been awarded a number of literary prizes, among them the Booker Prize in 1971 for his novel In a Free State and The Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.
In 1980 Newsweek put him on the cover with the headline “The Master of The Novel.”
V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad (1932) of Indian parents. In his career as a writer he traveled extensively to such places as: India, Pakistan, The Congo, Uganda, The Middle East, Indonesia, South America, The Caribbean and set his novels and non-fiction in these places.
Photographer: Eamonn McCabe