Synopses & Reviews
In his first book of non-fiction since 2003, V.S. Naipaul gives us an eloquent, candid, wide-ranging narrative that delves into the sometimes inadvertent process of creative and intellectual assimilation.
Born in Trinidad of Indian descent, a resident of England for his entire adult life, and a prodigious traveller, Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has always faced the challenges of fitting one civilisation to another. In A Writer's People, he discusses the writers to whom he was exposed early on, Derek Walcott, Flaubert and his own father among them; how Anthony Powell and Francis Wyndham influenced his first encounters with literary culture; what we have retained-and forgotten-of the world portrayed in Caesar's The Gallic War and Virgil's Aeneid; how the writings of Gandhi, Nehru and other Indian writers both reveal and conceal the authors and their nation. And he brings the same scrutiny to bear on his own life: his years in Trinidad; the gaps in his family history; the private India kept alive through story, ritual, religion and culture; his ever-evolving reaction to the more complicated and demanding true India he would encounter for the first time when he was thirty.
Part meditation, part remembrance, as elegant as it is revelatory, A Writer's People allows us privileged insight-full of incident, humour and feeling-into the mind of one of our greatest writers.
He brings to non-fiction an extraordinary capacity for making art out of lucid thought. . . . I can no longer imagine the world without Naipaul's writing. Los Angeles Times Book Review
'My purpose is not literary criticism or biography. I wish only to set out the writing and ways of seeing to which I was exposed.'
For the 'serious traveller', one who is fully engaged with the world, there can be no single view. So here is colonial Trinidad (the early Derek Walcott and Naipaul's own father), to which is added the culture of school (Flaubert and the classical world). There is England, where with the help of friends the writer seeks to make his way, and inevitably for a colonial Indian there is India, to be approached through the residue of Indian culture and the scattered memories of nineteenth-century immigrants, leading to a special understanding of Mahatma Gandhi.
Part meditation, part remembrance, A Writer's People is a privileged insight, full of gentleness, humour and feeling, into the mind of one of our greatest writers.
'The greatest writer now living in Britain. His courage in seeing and telling the truth represents a level of high seriousness that has all but vanished' Sunday Times
'Essential reading . . . it offers the insights and observations - on literature, history and cultural sensibility - of an honest and truly global thinker' Evening Standard