Author Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, better known as VS Naipaul, earned his place as one of the greatest writers of the past century with his works on diverse subjects ranging from culture to politics. The writer with Indian roots, who reshaped English literature, passes away at 85.
Known for his writings on colonialism and decolonisation, exile and the struggles in the developing world, the Nobel Prize-winning British novelist VS Naipaul passed away at his home in London at the age of 85. Born in the town of Chaguanas in Trinidad, the author was most famous for his seminal 1961 novel A House for Mr Biswas.
Naipaul published more than 30 works spanning both fiction and non-fiction. He won the Man Booker Prize in 1971 for his novel In a Free State, and the Nobel Prize for literature 30 years later. His writing has delighted and beguiled readers with books such as The Mystic Masseur (1957) and A Bend in the River (1979). In fact, his first book The Mystic Masseur was made into a film directed by Ismail Merchant in 2001.
As the news of his death spread, Twitter saw a flood of tweets from his fans and acquaintances paying tribute to him and expressing their sorrow. One fan said: “No-one inspired me to read more than Naipaul”; while another tweeted that his novel A House for Mr Biswas “stayed with me as a lasting memory for 30+ years”.
Author and fellow Man Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie took over Twitter, saying he “lost a beloved older brother”.
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
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also shared his condolences over the death of the writer.
Sir VS Naipaul will be remembered for his extensive works, which covered diverse subjects ranging from history, culture, colonialism, politics and more. His passing away is a major loss to the world of literature. Condolences to his family and well wishers in this sad hour.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 12, 2018
Naipaul remained outspoken throughout his career – sometimes to the extent of portraying himself in a negative light. His point of view on the travails of colonialism and postcolonialism – both in his novels and in travel books such as Among the Believers (1981) and Beyond Belief (1998) – earned him severe criticism. American travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux, had a long-running literary feud with Naipaul when he became critical of Naipaul’s writing and Naipaul distanced himself from Theroux.
He also got criticisms for attacking religious sentiments of Islam.
Naipaul was raised in a Hindu family and as a child was read out Shakespeare and Dickens by his father. After attending the Queen’s Royal College in Trinidad, he moved to Britain and enrolled at Oxford University in 1950 with a government scholarship, giving him entry into any Commonwealth university of his choice.
As a child he did not live a very happy life as he struggled with depression and once even attempted suicide. However, he overcame that and with his bold originality and sheer beauty of his writing, earned the admiration of his readers.
Naipaul passes away drawing the veritable curtain on an era of literature and politics.