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V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidad-born Nobel laureate whose exact and lyrical writing in such novels as “A Bend in the River” and “A House for Mr. Biswas” and brittle, misanthropic persona made him one of many world’s most admired and contentious writers, died Saturday at his London dwelling, his household mentioned. He was 85.

His spouse, Nadira Naipaul, mentioned 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 endeavor.”

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Naipaul’s work mirrored his private journey from Trinidad to London and varied stops in growing nations. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories.”

In a unprecedented profession spanning half a century, Naipaul traveled as a self-described “barefoot colonial” from his rural childhood to higher class England, and was hailed as one of many biggest writers of the 20th century. From “A Bend in the River” to “The Enigma of Arrival” to “Finding the Centre,” Naipaul’s books explored colonialism and decolonization, exile and the struggles of the everyman within the growing world.

He was vital of colonialism, however set himself aside from any social actions. He noticed himself as a realist, cured of illusions, his outlook outlined by the well-known opening phrases of “A Bend in the River” that grew to become the title of a licensed biography by Patrick French: “The world is what it is.”

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He was equally skeptical of faith and politics, of idealism of any type, whether or not revolutionary uprisings or of quests for paradise akin to Sir Walter Raleigh’s seek for the non-existent El Dorado.

“If you come from the New World, as I in large measure do, you see all the absurd fantasies people have taken there and the troubles they have wrought as a result,” Naipaul informed The Associated Press in 2000. “We were not given a proper history of the New World itself. This was not out of wickedness. It was out of ignorance, out of indifference, out of the feelings that the history of this very small island was not important. These aspects one had to learn and writing took me there. One didn’t begin with knowledge. One wrote oneself into knowledge.”

Naipaul prided himself on his candor, however he had an extended historical past of offensive remarks. Among his broadly quoted feedback: He referred to as India a “slave society,” quipped that Africa has no future, and defined that Indian ladies put on a coloured dot on their foreheads to say “my head is empty.” He laughed off the 1989 fatwa by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini towards Salman Rushdie as “an extreme form of literary criticism.”


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The critic Terry Eagleton as soon as mentioned of Naipaul: “Great art, dreadful politics.” Caribbean Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott complained that the creator’s prose was tainted by his “repulsion towards Negroes.”

C. L. R. James, a fellow Trinidadian author, put it in a different way: Naipaul’s views, he wrote, merely mirrored “what the whites want to say but dare not.”

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul — Vidia to those that knew him — was born on Aug. 17, 1932 in Trinidad, a descendant of impoverished Indians shipped to the West Indies as bonded laborers.

His father was an aspiring, self-taught novelist whose ambitions had been killed by lack of alternative; the son was decided to depart his homeland as quickly as he might. In later years, he would repeatedly reject his birthplace as little greater than a plantation.

“I was born there, yes,” he mentioned of Trinidad to an interviewer in 1983. “I thought it was a great mistake.”

In 1950, Naipaul was awarded one of some accessible authorities scholarships to check in England, and he left his household to start his research in English literature at University College, Oxford.

There he met his first spouse, Patricia Hale, whom he married in 1955 with out telling his household.

This 2001 file photograph reveals British creator V.S. Naipaul in Salisbury, England. (Chris Ison/PA through AP)

After commencement, Naipaul suffered a interval of poverty and unemployment: he was asthmatic, ravenous and relying on his spouse for revenue. Despite his Oxford training, he discovered himself surrounded by a hostile, xenophobic London.

“These people want to break my spirit … They want me to know my place,” he wrote bitterly to his spouse.

Naipaul finally landed a radio job working for BBC World Service, the place he mentioned West Indian literature and located his footing as a author. His breakthrough got here in 1957 along with his first printed novel “The Mystic Masseur,” a humorous guide concerning the lives of powerless individuals in a Trinidad ghetto.

Naipaul caught the attention of guide reviewers, and in 1959 he received the Somerset Maugham Award with the story assortment “Miguel Street.” In 1961, Naipaul printed the celebrated “A House for Mr. Biswas.” That novel, about how one man’s life was restricted by the boundaries of colonial society, was a tribute to Naipaul’s father.

“If he had been born in another culture, not a colonial agricultural society, his talent would have given him a reasonable chance somewhere and he would have flourished,” Naipaul informed the AP in 2000. “Part of his pathos was that he was born in the wrong place.”

In the years that adopted, Naipaul was to journey for intensive intervals to pen journalistic essays and journey books. He flew thrice to India, his ancestral dwelling, to write down about its tradition and politics. He frolicked in Buenos Aires, Argentina to write down about its former First Lady Eva Peron, and went to Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia for books about Islam.

Years earlier than the Sept. 11, 2001 assaults, Naipaul devoted consideration to Islamic radicalism in books together with “Among the Believers” and “Beyond Belief.”

In its Nobel quotation, the Swedish Academy referred to as him “a literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself.”

Naipaul’s nonfiction usually provoked a lot anger, and plenty of had been offended by his views about Islam and India — Rushdie, for instance, thought Naipaul was selling Hindu nationalism.

He additionally continued to publish award-winning novels. “The Mimic Men” received the W.H. Smith Award in 1967, and in 1971 “In a Free State,” a meditation on colonialism in Africa, was awarded the Booker Prize.

Africa additionally offered the setting for his 1979 novel “A Bend in the River.” His lifetime of journey and transitions was mirrored within the 1987 novel “The Enigma of Arrival,” which some thought-about his masterpiece.

Naipaul acquired a knighthood in 1990, and in 2001 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

As his literary stature grew, so did his fame as a troublesome, irascible persona. Naipaul was a non-public man and didn’t have many mates, however his private life entered the general public area when the American author Paul Theroux, a one-time good friend whose relationship with Naipaul turned bitter, printed a stinging memoir about Naipaul in 1998.

“Sir Vidia’s Shadow” described Naipaul as a racist, sexist miser who threw terrifying tantrums and beat up ladies.

Naipaul ignored Theroux’s guide, however he did authorize a candid biography that confirmed a few of Theroux’s claims. The biography, printed in 2008, devoted chapters to how Naipaul met and callously handled his mistress, an Anglo-Argentine girl who was married and a couple of decade youthful than he was. It recalled Naipaul’s confession to The New Yorker that he purchased intercourse and was a “great prostitute man,” and recorded Naipaul’s frank and disturbing feedback on how that destroyed his spouse, Hale, who died of breast most cancers in 1996.

“It could be said that I had killed her,” he informed biographer Patrick French. “I feel a little bit that way.”

This 2001 file photograph reveals British creator V.S. Naipaul in Salisbury, England. (Chris Ison/PA through AP)

Two months after Hale died, Naipaul married his second spouse, Pakistani newspaper columnist Nadira Khannum Alvi. Naipaul’s later books misplaced their playful humor, and a few say a lot of their attraction.

He spent a lot of his time dwelling quietly in an remoted cottage in Wiltshire, within the English countryside.

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