Nobel Prize for a Very Private Author VS Naipaul

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony Barnes

V.S. Naipaul yesterday won possibly the world's best known writing honour as he took the Nobel Prize for literature.

The 69-year-old, Trinidad-born writer, landed the pounds 650,000 award for 'having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories', according to the prize academy.

Oxford-educated Naipaul recently published his first novel for seven years Half A Life.

Past winners have included Jean Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Rudyard Kipling and, in 1995, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

A spokeswoman for the writer said: 'He's absolutely overwhelmed.'

Naipaul, who values his privacy highly, had been reluctant to answer the phone when he was contacted to let him know of his good fortune, according to the head of the prize academy.

Horace Engdahl reached the 98th Nobel literature laureate after the writer's wife, Nadia Khannum Alvi, repeatedly called him to get him to the phone.

Engdahl said: 'He was very surprised and I don't think he was pretending.

'He was surprised because he feels that as a writer he doesn't represent anything but himself.'

The Academy singled out his The Enigma of Arrival, published in 1987, saying he created an 'unrelenting image of the placid collapse of the old colonial ruling culture and the demise of European neighbourhoods'.

Naipaul, a novelist and short story writer, who left Trinidad at the age of 18, presents impressions of the country of his ancestors, India, and critical assessments of Muslim fundamentalism in non-Arab countries.

He said: 'I am utterly delighted, this is an unexpected accolade. …