A weird headline in the New York Times:
V.S. Naipaul, Who Wrote Unsparingly of Colonialism, Is Dead
By RACHEL DONADIO 8:21 PM ET
Mr. Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001, wrote about the liberation movements that swept across Africa and the Caribbean, where he was born. He was 85.
A more accurate headline might be:
V.S. Naipaul, Who Wrote Unsparingly of Post-Colonial Blacks and Muslims, Is Dead
The obituary itself is more accurate than the headline:
Compared in his lifetime to Conrad, Dickens and Tolstoy, he was also a lightning rod for criticism, particularly by those who read his portrayals of third-world disarray as apologies for colonialism.
Naipaul was a Hindu Trinidadian. The black Trinidadian CPA who lived upstairs from me in Chicago in the 1990s mentioned Naipaul had been his substitute teacher. He was a tough grader.
Sir Vidia didn’t think too highly of blacks or Muslims, and he was embarrassed by his fellow Hindus. He somewhat liked proper Englishmen, but mostly didn’t think all that much of anybody who wasn’t V.S. Naipaul. His travel writing protege Paul Theroux shared his misanthropy without as much of Naipaul’s amour propre.
Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the wake of 9/11, which had made his distaste for Islam briefly less disqualifying.