Monday 13 August 2018 1:30 AM UTC
LONDON Aug 13: V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel laureate who documented the migrations of peoples, the unraveling of the British Empire, the ironies of exile and the clash between belief and unbelief in more than a dozen unsparing novels and as many works of nonfiction, died Saturday at his home in London. He was 85.
His family confirmed the death in a statement, The Associated Press reported.
In many ways embodying the contradictions of the postcolonial world, Naipaul was born of Indian ancestry in Trinidad, went to Oxford University on a scholarship and lived the rest of his life in England, where he forged one of the most illustrious literary careers of the last half century. He was knighted in 1990.
Compared in his lifetime to Conrad, Dickens and Tolstoy, he was also a lightning rod for criticism, particularly by those who read his portrayals of Third World disarray as apologies for colonialism.
Yet Naipaul exempted neither colonizer nor colonized from his scrutiny. He wrote of the arrogance and self-aggrandizement of the colonizers, yet exposed the self-deception and ethical ambiguities of the liberation movements that swept across Africa and the Caribbean in their wake.
He brought to his work moral urgency and a novelist’s attentiveness to individual lives and triumphs.
Naipaul personified a sense of displacement. Having left behind the circumscribed world of Trinidad, he was never entirely rooted in England.
In awarding him the Nobel Prize in literature in 2001, the Swedish Academy described him as “a literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice.”
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