“Lost Beloved Elder Brother”: Salman Rushdie, Others Remember VS Naipaul

New Delhi: 

British author VS Naipaul, known for his literary achievements in writing about life in countries after they suffered colonialism, has died at the age of 85 at his home in London. His family announced the death in a statement. The cause of his death was not immediately known. VS Naipaul, who published more than two dozen volumes ranging from novels and travelogues, was infamous for his controversial statements.

The son of an Indian civil servant, he was born in Trinidad, and had made Britain his home. His early literary works focused on the West Indies and dealt with the trauma of post-colonial change.

He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2001, with the Swedish Academy describing him as a “literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice”.

Tweets condoling Mr Naipaul’s death came pouring in soon after news of his death broke.

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Author Salman Rushdie tweeted, saying “we disagreed all our live about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother”.

Author Reza Aslan tweeted, commenting on his long-running literary feud with his former protege, Paul Theroux, saying he heard Mr Naipaul whispering, “One wishes things would have turned out differently”. According to The Washington Post, Mr Theroux called Mr Naipaul “a grouch, a skinflint, tantrum-prone.”

Author Amitav Ghosh shared “an old piece” he had written when he won the Nobel, saying there was “magic if reading Naipaul in those years.”

Despite his literary achievements, Mr Naipaul faced throughout his life, accusations of racism, sexism, chauvinism and Islamophobia. He once said that “Africans need to be kicked,” according to The Washington Post, adding “that’s the only thing they understand.”

British author Hari Kunzru, in a series of tweets, remembered Mr Naipaul, saying that during a TV interview, crew members were “alarmed” after he started to cry. In another tweet, Mr Kunzru said there was “a list of taboo subjects” he had promised to not bring up.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled Mr Naipaul’s death in a tweet, saying his works covered subjects ranging from “history, culture, colonialism, politics and more.

To his biographer Patrick French, Mr Naipaul admitted to visiting prostitutes while being married, physically abusing his mistress and saying the treatment he meted out to his wife was equal to saying he had “killed her”.

(With Inputs From AFP, The Washington Post)

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