The literary giant V S Naipaul who won a Nobel Prize, a knighthood, and the Booker Prize dies at 85

The literary giant V S Naipaul won a Nobel Prize, a knighthood and the Booker Prize for his 1971 novel In A Free State

Twenty years ago, when I met Vidia, he was considered the most intimidating figure in the literary world.

He would send ambassadors to journalists after two questions if he felt they had not read his works. When I went to interview him at his home in Wiltshire, his wife Nadira took pity on me and asked him to be nice.

And he was. For the next 20 years. While he had a reputation for irascible and fearsome, and his observations and prose were as sharp as glass, his vulnerability, gentleness and gestures of generosity were equally moving.

The literary giant V S Naipaul won a Nobel Prize, a knighthood and the Booker Prize for his 1971 novel In A Free State

The literary giant V S Naipaul won a Nobel Prize, a knighthood and the Booker Prize for his 1971 novel In A Free State

For me, that generosity included having two books, including the masterly A Bend In The River, dedicated to me.

His books explored identity and loss, corruption and different types of exile. And often he himself was the subject, the poor guy from Trinidad who made his way to a scholarship to Oxford with one goal: to write.

And he never felt that it was easy. He talked about the struggle and the almost impossible task of making words more than words and letters to create literary masterpieces.

Last night they called me at his side when he ran away. His wife Nadira and his adopted daughter Maleeha held his hand while he exhaled his last breath, while reading Tennyson's Crossing The Bar, one of his favorite poems, out loud.

It was a peaceful end.

We had extraordinary moments together. He had worked so relentlessly hard, sacrificing all social life in his early days, that he was astonished to have found in the last two decades that he loved to go out. He was delighted to be a member of Harry's Bar, the Mayfair food club, and he always joked that he only wanted to have a martini there.

He found it impossible not to be honest. & # 39; I do not want to read Proust. It's for lazy people or people who want to sound polite, "he said, laughing, and the humor while looking warily at the world was an essential part of him.

Yes, he invited the controversy, and when Salman Rushdie had the fatwa against him, he ingeniously described it as a severe form of literary criticism. In many ways, Vidia was like Salim, the hero in A Bend In The River, a man without a side. He was the observer who changed the way we see the world.

He dedicated himself to his second wife, Nadira, who was always protective and helped him improve his life, taking him out and making sure that his literary legacy was taken care of.

It is a big hole in the literary heritage of Britain that he leaves, but the only certainty, and that was all that really mattered to him, is that his books are still alive. Of that

By Chris Hastings

V S Naipaul, one of the most convincing literary figures of the last 50 years, died at age 85.

The author born in Trinidad (left in 1973), who emigrated to Britain when he was young, produced several masterpieces of fiction and nonfiction as a novelist, travel writer and essayist.

He died last night at his home in London, with his wife Nadira and adopted his daughter Maleeha next to his bed.

Naipaul died at his home in London at the age of 85 with his wife Nadira, his adopted daughter Maleeha and Mail Sunday editor Geordie Greig next to his bed.

Naipaul died at his home in London at the age of 85 with his wife Nadira, his adopted daughter Maleeha and Mail Sunday editor Geordie Greig next to his bed.

Naipaul died at his home in London at the age of 85 with his wife Nadira, his adopted daughter Maleeha and Mail Sunday editor Geordie Greig next to his bed.

Last night, Lady Naipaul said: "He was a giant in everything he achieved and died peacefully surrounded by his loved ones, after having lived a life full of wonderful creativity and effort."

Vidia Naipaul won the highest awards available to any British writer: the Nobel Prize, a knighthood for his services to literature and the Booker Prize for his 1971 novel In A Free State. Descendant of hired workers sent from India to the Caribbean, Naipaul decided to become a writer at age 11.

A scholarship to Oxford brought him to England but he had trouble succeeding in a country that did not seem to receive different voices.

His breakthrough came with the acclaimed 1961 novel A House for Mr. Biswas.

He was not afraid of controversy, and this was often expressed with humor, which was sometimes counterproductive, especially when he declared that a writer could not be his equal.

In awarding Naipaul with the Nobel Prize for Literature 2001, the Academy praised his work "for having united the perceptive narrative and the incorruptible scrutiny in works that force us to see the presence of repressed stories".

Last month he attended a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall for all the Booker Prize winners.

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