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V.S. Naipaul biography

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V.S. Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul

How to pronounce V.S. Naipaul: V S neye-PAWL

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.



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The Masque of Africa jacket A Writer's People jacket Half A Life jacket
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All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for V.S. Naipaul but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Nadeem Aslam

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    Nadeem Aslam was born in Pakistan in 1966 and moved to Britain at age 14. His family left Pakistan to escape President Zia's regime.

    His novel Maps for Lost Lovers, winner of the Kuriyama Prize, took him more than a decade ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Half A Life

    Try:
    The Wasted Vigil
    by Nadeem Aslam

  • Kiran Desai

    Kiran Desai

    Kiran Desai was born in India in 1971, she lived in Delhi until she was 14, then spent a year in England, before her family moved to the USA.  She completed her schooling in Massachusetts before attending Bennington ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Half A Life

    Try:
    The Inheritance of Loss
    by Kiran Desai

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