Nobel Laureate Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul on Thursday lost his
temper over what he termed the "Indian obsession with the issue of
colonialism," abruptly ending the three-day writers conference in
Naipaul's outburst brought to a premature end a lecture by novelist
Nayantara Sehgal on Shared Histories: Issues of Colonialism and
Relationship with the Past.
"Why do you keep drumming up the issue of colonialism?" he asked when
Sehgal spoke about the influence of colonial rule on Indian literature.
A stunned Sehgal recovered and replied it was as the topic of
Naipaul, on his first visit to India after winning the Nobel Prize, said
India had been free for more than 50 years and hence, Indian writers
should stop harping on the issue.
"Banality irritates me. Life is too short," he said, adding that if
writers keep talking about oppression they would not get the time to
A verbal duel followed, with novelist (The Last Jet Engine
Laugh) Ruchir Joshi shouting at Naipaul that "you are obnoxious."
He also asked Naipaul to refrain from posing injunctions while the woman
Vikram Seth, author of A Suitable Boy, tried to pacify Naipaul,
but Sehgal's speech ended there as the discussion's moderator, New
York-based novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh, decided to move on to the
Unconfirmed reports said Naipaul apologised to Sehgal later.
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