India

Nobel Prize-winning author VS Naipaul dies at 85

Naipaul's family confirmed that he died peacefully in London on Saturday.

London: Nobel Prize-winning novelist VS Naipaul has passed away at the age of 85, his family announced on Sunday. Lady Naipaul confirmed that her husband died peacefully in London on Saturday, reports the Guardian.

She said in a statement, “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 endeavour.”

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, who explored questions of place and identity for more than half a century, was born in 1932 in Chaguanas on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, to a family that had arrived from India in the 1880s, part of what he once called “an immigrant Asian community in a small plantation island in the New World”.

A government scholarship offered him a chance to escape, and become an immigrant once more as he travelled to Oxford in 1950 in order to study English.

He began his literary career in 1961 and since then has written about 30 books, although it was the novel ‘A House for Mr Biswas’ that launched him to fame.

Critics accused him of holding people of the developing world in contempt even as his diamantine prose won him a series of awards including the Booker prize in 1971, a knighthood in 1989 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.

Naipaul once said that he never felt at home in the community. In 2008, he recalled his childhood as “pretty awful” and his family as “terrible… very large, with too many people. There was no beauty. It was full of malice”.

His first book, ‘The Mystic Masseur’, was published in 1951 and a decade later he published his most celebrated novel, ‘A House for Mr Biswas’, with a protagonist based on Naipaul’s father which took him over three years to write, reports the BBC.

Some of his other noted works include ‘The Enigma of Arrival’, ‘Miguel Street’, ‘The Loss of El Dorado’ and ‘Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples’.

Naipaul’s death was mourned by many including Geordie Greig, editor of the Mail on Sunday and a close friend, said his loss leaves a ‘gaping hole in Britain’s literary heritage’ but there is “no doubt” that his “books live on”.

British novelist and journalist Hari Kunzru took to Twitter to share an account with the late author:

Salman Rushdie mourned the death of VS Naipaul, saying he lost a beloved older brother while fellow authors said he was one of the greatest writers who was very engaging when he turned on the charm.

Here’s how Twitterati reacted to his demise:

(With inputs from Agencies)

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