Naipaul, Vidiadhar Surajprasad. (b. 1932).
L i f e
- born in Trinidad, the English-speaking Caribbean, in a family of Indian descent x but: settled in England
W o r k
- a novelist, short story writer, travel book writer, and author of non-fiction, essays, and criticism
- preoccupied with colonialism x but: uses a wide range of settings, including England, India, Africa, or America
- early period: exploits his starkly satiric vision of the world in comedies of manners focused on the Trinidadian society
- mature period: develops political themes, focuses on the colonial and post-colonial societies in the process of de-colonisation
- later period: exploits the insensitivities and disconnections marring the relations among individuals, races, and nations
- concentrates on an individual’s struggle with cultures and the desperate and destructive conditions of the struggle
> received the Nobel Prize for Literature (2001)
F i c t i o n :
A House for Mr Biswas (1961):
- traces the disintegration of a traditional way of life in the post-colonial world
- follows the declining fortunes of the Indo-Trinidadian protagonist from birth to death
- conclusion: the protagonist marries, finds himself dominated by his new family, and finally sets himself the goal of owning his own house
In a Free State (1971):
- his masterpiece, won him the Booker Prize
- a searching study of what it means to be enslaved x to be free
- one of his most complex and most suspenseful novels
- set on an unnamed Third World Caribbean island populated by a mix of ethnicities x but: dominated by the post-colonial British
A Bend in the River (1979):
- set in an unnamed African country after gaining its independence
- the protagonist: an Indian Muslim, brought up during the colonial period
- he feels neither European nor fully African and observes the rapid changes in his homeland with an outsider’s distance
Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981)
- a non-fictional ‘cultural exploration’ (= study) of Islam
The Enigma of Arrival (1987):
- a personal account of the author's life in England
AuthorSir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul. (b. 1932). British.
WorkNovelist. Short story writer. Non-fiction writer. Nobel Prize Winner (2001). Author of In a Free State (1971).
GenresModern fiction. Colonial writing. Non-fiction.
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Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"Naipaul is Conrad’s heir as the annalist of the destinies of empires in the moral sense: what they do to human beings. His authority as a narrator is grounded in his memory of what others have forgotten, the history of the vanquished."
The Swedish Nobel Prize Academy