Naipaul, V. S.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Naipaul, V. S.

V. S. Naipaul: (Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul) (nīpôl´), 1932–, English author, b. Chaguanas, Trinidad; grad. University College, Oxford, 1953. Naipul, whose family is descended from Indian Brahmins, has lived in England since 1950. A master of English prose style, he is known for his penetrating analyses of alienation and exile. In fiction and essays marked by stylistic virtuosity and psychological insight, he often focuses on his childhood and his travels beyond Trinidad. Writing with increasing irony and pessimism, he has often bleakly detailed the dual problems of the Third World: the oppressions of colonialism and the chaos of postcolonialism.

Among Naipaul's works of international analysis are The Middle Passage (1962), about the West Indies and South America; an Indian trilogy: An Area of Darkness (1964), India: A Wounded Civilization (1977), and India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990); and The Masque of Africa (2010), on indigenous religions in several African nations. His novels include The Mystic Masseur (1957), A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), In a Free State (1971; Booker Prize), Guerrillas (1975), A Bend in the River (1979), and Half a Life (2001) and its sequel, Magic Seeds (2004); he has also written numerous short stories. Among his other works are The Enigma of Arrival (1987), A Way in the World (1994), and A Writer's People (2008), autobiographical works combining novel, memoir, and history; Among the Believers (1981) and Beyond Belief (1998), analyses of modern Islam; and many political essays, a representative sample of which are collected in The Writer and the World (2002). Naipaul was knighted in 1990 and awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

See his early letters in Between Father and Son: Family Letters (2000), ed. by G. Aitken; F. Jussawalla, ed., Conversations with V. S. Naipaul (1997); biographies by R. D. Hamner (1973), R. Kelly (1989), and P. French (2008); studies by P. Theroux (1972 and 1998), R. D. Hamner, ed. (1979), P. Nightingale (1987), P. Hughes (1988), T. F. Weiss (1992), W. Dissanayake (1993), B. A. King (1993), J. Levy (1995), F. Mustafa (1995), R. Nixon (1997), N. Ramadevi (1997), A. J. Khan (1998), L. Feder (2001), H. Hayward (2002), and B. King (2003).

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