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Reflections on the life and work of V.S. Naipaul

Reflections on the life and work of V.S. Naipaul

On behalf of the Booker Prize Foundation, we were all saddened to hear the news over the weekend that Booker and Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul has died, aged 85.


He died peacefully at his home with his wife, Nadira, by his side. Announcing his death on Saturday night, Lady Naipaul said Sir Vidia lived a life ‘full of wonderful creativity and endeavour’.


Geordie Grieg, the editor of the Mail on Sunday, who has been friends with the writer for 20 years was also present and told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, that he and Nadira read him Lord Tennyson’s poem Crossing The Bar.


V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad on 17 August 1932. He came to the UK to study at Oxford University in 1950. Naipaul wrote more than 30 books during his life including A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River and In a Free State. The latter won the Booker Prize in 1971. In 1990 he was knighted and in 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was often cited as the greatest living writer in the English language.


This year, as part of the Man Booker Prize’s 50th anniversary celebrations, V.S. Naipaul was shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize for In a Free State. The book was chosen by writer and editor Robert McCrum who described it as ‘outstandingly the best novel to win the Booker Prize in the 1970s, a disturbing book about displaced people at the dangerous edge of a disrupted world that could have been written yesterday, a classic for all seasons.’


Naipaul also penned a reflective piece in the Times Literary Supplement’s Man Booker 50 special about his writing career. He wrote: 'My endeavour in writing has always been to discover and discover anew, to see the world and put together the words that reflect it … I have tried to construct stories and record observations, to make sense of what and who we are in this world of several continents, several varied if connected pasts’.


In July, Sir Vidia was a guest at a Man Booker 50 reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by The Duchess of Cornwall. He is pictured here with the Duchess and fellow Man Booker Prize winners. That same week, he attended the Golden Man Booker Live event at Southbank Centre. Lady Naipaul (pictured) read a speech on his behalf. She spoke about his long and distinguished career as a writer: ‘It has been said that V.S. Naipaul opened a new dimension of writing to English letters, making it possible for others, from different parts of the English-speaking world, to follow’.