Noted British author and Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul passed away in London at the age of 85 on Saturday. Confirming the news, his wife, Lady Naipaul said in a statement: “He died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour”. She described the author as a “giant in everything he achieved”.
He was born in Chaguanas, on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, in a family descended from Indian immigrants. From there he travelled to the UK and entered the University of Oxford in 1950 after winning a government scholarship. He began his literary career in 1961 and since then has written about 30 books, although it was the novel “A House for Mr Biswas” that launched him to fame.
Turning from the comedy that began his career, Naipaul cast a steely eye on the shards of empire in a series of novels and travelogues. Unflattering portraits of the West Indies, India, Africa and the Islamic faith brought both hostility and acclaim.
Here is a list of work by VS Naipaul:
The Mystic Masseur (1957)
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
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), published by Sylvester & Orphanos
A Turn in the South (1989)
India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990)
Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples (1998)
Between Father and Son: Family Letters (1999, edited by Gillon Aitken)
The Writer and the World: Essays (2002)
A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling (2007)
The Masque of Africa (2010) (Credit: Wikipedia)
Critics accused him of holding people of the developing world in contempt even as his diamantine prose won him a series of awards including the Booker prize in 1971, a knighthood in 1989 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.
His first book, “The Mystic Masseur”, was published in 1951 and a decade later he published his most celebrated novel, “A House for Mr Biswas”, with a protagonist based on Naipaul’s father took him over three years to write, reports the BBC.
When he was awarded the 2001 Nobel prize for literature, the Swedish Academy described him as a “literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice”. It said he was “the annalist of the destinies of empires in the moral sense: what they do to human beings”.
(With inputs from agencies)