V.S. Naipaul Biography
V.S. Naipaul (Vidiadhar Surajprasad) was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad, on 17
August 1932, the eldest son of a second-generation Indian. He was educated at
Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, and, after winning a government scholarship, in
England at University College, Oxford. He worked briefly for the BBC as a writer
and editor for the 'Caribbean Voices' programme.
His first three books are comic portraits of Trinidadian society. The Mystic
Masseur (1957) won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in
1958 and was adapted as a film with a screenplay by Caryl Phillips in 2001.
Miguel Street (1959), a collection of short stories, won a Somerset Maugham
Award. His acclaimed novel A House for Mr Biswas (1961), is based on his
father's life in Trinidad. His first novel set in England, Mr Stone and the
Knights Companion (1963), won the Hawthornden Prize.
Subsequent novels developed more political themes and he began to write about
colonial and post-colonial societies in the process of decolonisation. These
novels include The Mimic Men (1967), winner of the 1968 WH Smith Literary
Award, In a Free State (1971), which won the Booker Prize for Fiction,
Guerrillas (1975) and A Bend in the River (1979), set in Africa.
The Enigma of Arrival (1987) is a personal account of his life in England.
A Way in the World (1994), is a formally experimental narrative that
combines fiction and non-fiction in a historical portrait of the Caribbean.
Half a Life, was published in 2001 and follows the adventures of Indian
Willie Chandran in post-war Britain, a new life initiated by a chance encounter
between his father and the novelist W. Somerset Maugham. Magic Seeds
(2004) continues his story.
V. S. Naipaul is also the author of a number of works of non-fiction including
three books about India: An Area of Darkness (1964), India: A Wounded
Civilization (1977), India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990), and two
books about Islamic societies, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey
(1981) and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions (1998). He has written about
the Caribbean in The Middle Passage: Impressions of Five Societies - British,
French and Dutch in the West Indies and South America (1962) and The Loss
of El Dorado: A History (1969), and has published two collections of essays,
The Overcrowded Barracoon and Other Articles (1972) and The Return of
Eva Peron (1980). The Writer and the World: Essays, was published in
2002, and Literary Occasions, a further collection of essays, was
published in 2004. In 1995 he published two nonfiction works: Indian
Essays and American Occasions; and in 2007, A Writer's People:
Ways of Looking and Feeling.
V. S. Naipaul was knighted in 1989 (Sir Vidia), and was awarded the David Cohen
British Literature Prize by the Arts Council of England in 1993 and the Nobel
Prize for Literature in 2001. He holds honorary doctorates from Cambridge
University and Columbia University in New York, and honorary degrees from the
universities of Cambridge, London and Oxford. He lives in Wiltshire, England.
This biography was last updated on 08/01/2011.
A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2000 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that
some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date,
inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors:
If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we replace the old with the new, including your website URL if relevant.