‘The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.’
Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, also known as Vidia to his close acquaintances, was born on August 17, 1932, in Trinidad, as a descendant of impoverished Indians shipped to the West Indies as bonded laborers.
The Trinidad-born Nobel laureate’s writing and brittle were equally celebrated while his provocative personality drew admiration and revulsion in equal measures, died Saturday at his London home, 85 at the time, his family said.
Nadira Naipaul, his second wife, said he was “a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavor.”
In 2001, Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories.”
The writer traveled as a self-described “barefoot colonial” from rural Trinidad to upper-class England, bagged the most coveted literary awards and a knighthood whilst being hailed by both, critics and peers alike, as one of the greatest English writers of the 20th century through his extraordinary career spanning half a century.
Naipaul’s books explored themes that mirrored his personal background and ambit including colonialism and decolonization, exile and the struggles of mankind in the developing world.
He allegedly offended many with his arrogant behavior and jokes which tilted toward racism although his writing was widely praised for its compassion towards the destitutes.
He once called India a “slave society,” alleged that Africa has no future, and explained that Indian women wear a colored dot on their foreheads to say “my head is empty.” He even laughed off the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie as “an extreme form of literary criticism.”
We disagreed all our lives, about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RIP Vidia. #VSNaipaul
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) August 12, 2018
RIP VS Naipaul. An old piece written when he won the Nobel: https://t.co/Mo8ZlX0Khi
Sanjay Subrahmanyam's 'Where does he come from?' is well worth reading: https://t.co/IvC47iozs4
— Amitav Ghosh (@GhoshAmitav) August 12, 2018