Nobel prize-winning author of Indian descent Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, known for his critical commentary on colonialism, idealism, religion and politics, has died at the age of 85, his family said early Sunday.
Also known as V S Naipaul, he was born in August 1932 in Trinidad into a Hindu family. He moved to England at the age of 18 after receiving scholarship to University College, Oxford and subsequently settled there, although he travelled extensively thereafter.
Naipaul married Patricia Ann Hale at the age of 23 in 1955. After her death in 1996, he married divorced Pakistani journalist Nadira Khannum Alvi.
He was known for his comic early novels set in Trinidad and Tobago, his bleaker later novels of the wider world and his autobiographical chronicles of life and travels. He published more than thirty books, both of fiction and non-fiction over fifty years.
His first book was ‘The Mystic Masseur’ while his most celebrated novel: “A House for Mr Biswas” was published in 1961.
A report from London quoted his wife Lady Nadira Naipaul saying 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.” She called him a “giant in all that he achieved”.
Lady Nadira Naipaul said he died at his home in London “surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour”.
He was the recipient of numerous honours, including the Man Booker Prize in 1971 and a knighthood for services to literature in 1990. Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.
In awarding him the prize, the Swedish Academy praised him “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”.
In the 1880s, Naipaul’s grandparents migrated from India to work as indentured labourers in Trinidad. His father Seeprasad Naipaul became an English-language journalist, and in 1929 began contributing articles to the Trinidad Guardian. Later in 1932, the year Naipaul was born, his father joined the staff as the correspondent based in Chaguanas, a Trinidad town.
In “A prologue to an autobiography” (1983), Naipaul described how his father’s reverence for writers and for the writing life spawned his own dreams and aspirations to become a writer. Naipaul in his 2001 Nobel Prize lecture Two worlds identified himself to be paternally linked to Nepal.