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v. Naipaul, controversial writer and Nobel Prize winner dies at 85: NPR

V.S. Naipaul, seen here in 1968, once told the NPR: "It's important to avoid turning. It's offset by the reader."

John Minihan / Evening Standard / Getty Images

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John Minihan / Evening Standard / Getty Images

V.S. Naipaul, seen here in 1968, once told the NPR: "It's important to avoid the fan. It's offset by the reader."

John Minihan / Evening Standard / Getty Images

Perhaps best known for his novel A Bend in the river V.S. Naipaul was a controversial figure in the literary world. Nobel award winning author died on Saturday at his home in London, according to media offerings citing the writer's wife. He was 85 years old.

Associated Press reports that his wife Nadira Naipaul said he was "a giant in all he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved to have lived a life full of wonderful creativity and pursuit."

Naipai's relationship with Trinidad, his place of birth, was nothing if not complicated. His grandparents emigrated from India as an indentured servant, and Naipaul said that he thought it was a mistake that he was born there. Here, he described Trinidad in a 1994 NPR interview: "After the destruction of the native people, there was a wilderness, and then on that wilderness, you began to plant a plantation. And I fear it's so we have to think of the place. be a country the way you would think. Turkey is a country. "

However, Naipai's 1961 novel, a house for Mr. Biswas, based on his father's life, presented another view of Trinidad and the author. New Yorker Book critic James Wood says, "It's very funny, it's really a comic novel. It's a very sophisticated letter to Trinidad where it is clear that the childish Naipaul had gone around the island and cooled all information he could. It's full of details. It's really a poem to the island. "

Still, Naipaul would not get stuck in Trinidad as his father, so he sought and won a scholarship for Oxford. His early years in Britain were difficult; The author suffered from depression and loneliness. Wood says that a collection of Naipaiul's letters home reveals what life was for the young student: "Of course, there was still a lot of racism around and he writes back very much to his parents back in Trinidad about some slights made for him in Oxford. And he also speaks interestingly in those letters about how he is determined to be top of his class and writing better than any English. "

When a collection of these letters was published in 2000, Naipaul told NPR he did not believe they fell in the intense feelings of the early experiences. Instead, he used his writing to work through these feelings.

"It's important to avoid the trap," he said. This is so personal, it has nothing to do with me. And the point of treating experiences tries to find the points in universality. You have to go back from the experience and see what there is for that for other people.

But according to Wood, the early emotional experiences of Naipaul hurt. "I think the source of the wound was shame," said Wood, "and especially a kind of colonial shame. "He says that Naipaul was caught between two worlds – the colonization world and the colonization world – and his view of colonization can be hard. Naipaul was often criticized for depicting developing countries in his novels. He may have been hurt but he could also hurt. 19659009] "There was a lot of rage there," says Wood, "and it took different forms. Sometimes you know he would write about India or he would write about the Caribbean and, as many commentators have noted, he wrote with some kind of misleading and prejudices – sometimes I think a certain amount of racism. "

Naipaul never really felt at home somewhere, and wrote about it in his memoir Half a Life . In this section he describes the terror of a first trip to a strange country:

" He went by ship. And all about the trip so frightened him … that he was unwilling to talk, first out of pure worry, and then when he discovered that silence gave him strength, out of politics. He looked without trying to see and hear without listening. "

According to Wood, Naipaiul's rootlessness and dissatisfaction gave his writing an edge and honesty that often resulted in greatness." There is something sharp and painful and constantly interesting for a writer and about a person who can not transcend these wounds and can not heal them and, as it is, go down the street that carried the wound completely open and vulnerable, "he says." And I think there is something that remained true about his work and about his personality to the end. "

Naipaul spent his last years with his second wife in the English countryside, far from his native Trinidad.

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