File image of British author VS Naipaul at his UK home, 11 October 2001, after it was announced that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

PM Modi Condoles Demise of Nobel Prize-Winning Author VS Naipaul

Trinidad-born Indian-origin writer and Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul died at his home in London on Saturday, 11 August, at the age of 85, family sources said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of the Nobel Laureate author, saying it was a major loss for the world of literature.

His wife, Lady Nadira Naipaul, in a statement, described the author as a giant in everything he achieved, adding that “he died surrounded by those he loved, having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour.” 

Mourning his death, British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie said he lost a beloved older brother.

In addition to the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, VS Naipaul also won the Booker Prize in 1971, and is considered one of the most important writers in the English language of the 20th and 21st centuries.

From Trinidad to Oxford: Naipaul’s Journey

He was born in 1932 in Chaguanas, on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, in a family descended from Indian immigrants. From there, he travelled to the UK and entered the University of Oxford in 1950 after winning a government scholarship at the age of 18.

He wrote his first novel while at Oxford, but it was not published. He left the university in 1954 and found a job as a cataloguer in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

His first published novel, The Mystic Masseur, written in 1958, was poorly received initially, but the following year he won the first of his literary awards, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for young authors.

His literary career truly began in 1961 and since then, he has written about 30 books, although it was the novel A House for Mr Biswas that brought him much fame. Other books that won him critical acclaim were In A Free State and A Bend in the River.

Apart from books, Naipaul also documented his journeys across India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Congo through detailed travel writings.

No stranger to controversy, Naipaul was infamous for having strong opinions about a myriad of things – from Islam to his female writing peers.

He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth in 1989. Through his work, Naipaul has always contributed to conversations about literature, politics, and religion across the world and will continue to do so for all time to come.


(With inputs from Reuters and IANS.)