Nobel 'Surprise' for Novelist VS Naipaul

Article excerpt

BRITISH author V S Naipaul - who just days ago criticised the "calamitous effect" of Islam - was yesterday awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

The head of the prize academy conceded that from outside it could be seen as a political decision after the US attacks, but pointed out that the writer's views were not so clear-cut.

Trinidad-born Naipaul, 69, landed a prize of more than pounds 650,000 as he joined a select band of authors, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett and Rudyard Kipling.

The academy chose him for "having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories".

Oxford-educated Naipaul - whoo recently published his first novel for seven years, Half A Life - said in a brief statement: "I am utterly delighted, this is an unexpected accolade.

"It is a great tribute to England, my home, and to India, home of my ancestors, and to the dedication and support of my agent Gillon Aitken."

Naipaul's views have often ruffled feathers and at a reading he compared Islam to colonialism.

Head of the academy Horace Engdahl agreed that those looking on might view it as a political decision which could lead to a "muted reaction" for the prize. …