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October 11, 2001
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V S Naipaul bags Nobel Prize in literature

Trinidadian English writer of Indian origin, VS Naipaul, added another feather to his already crowded hat, when he bagged the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2001.

A Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences press release said he bagged the award 'for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories'.

The release described Naipaul as a 'literary circumnavigator', who blurred the distinction between fiction and non-fiction.

Naipaul's literary domain has extended far beyond the West Indian island of Trinidad, his first subject, and now encompasses India, Africa, America, the Islamic countries of Asia and, not the least, England, the release added.

The release said, "Naipaul is Conrad's heir as the annalist of the destinies of empires in the moral sense: what they do to human beings. His authority as a narrator is grounded in his memory of what others have forgotten, the history of the vanquished."

Naipaul's first published literary work was The Mystic Masseur, which was quickly followed by a collection of short stories - Miguel Street.

The release said his first two books 'established Naipaul as a humorist and a portrayer of street life'.

His most famous book, at least for the Indian audience, A House for Mr Biswas followed, putting him on the fast track to literary greatness.

The press release described the book thus: "One of those singular novels that seem to constitute their own complete universes, in this case a miniature India on the periphery of the British Empire, the scene of his father's circumscribed existence."

About his masterpiece, The Enigma of Arrival, the release said, "Naipaul visits the reality of England like an anthropologist studying some hitherto unexplored native tribe deep in the jungle. With apparently short-sighted and random observations he creates an unrelenting image of the placid collapse of the old colonial ruling culture and the demise of European neighbourhoods."

V S Naipaul has been awarded a number of literary prizes, among them the Booker Prize in 1971 and the T S Eliot Award for Creative Writing in 1986.

He is an honorary doctor of St Andrew's College and Columbia University and of the Universities of Cambridge, London and Oxford.

In 1990, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

Some of the selected works of V S Naipaul:

The Mystic Masseur. London: Deutsch, 1957.
Miguel Street. London: Deutsch, 1959.
A House for Mr. Biswas. London: Deutsch, 1961.
The Middle Passage : Impressions of Five Societies ?" British, French and Dutch in the
West Indies and South America. London: Deutsch, 1962.
Mr Stone and the Knights Companion. London: Deutsch, 1963.
A Flag on the Island. London: Deutsch, 1967.
The Loss of El Dorado: A History. London: Deutsch, 1969.
In a Free State. London: Deutsch, 1971.
The Overcrowded Barracoon and Other Articles. London: Deutsch, 1972.
Guerrillas. London: Deutsch, 1975.
India : A Wounded Civilization. London: Deutsch, 1977.
A Bend in the River. London: Deutsch, 1979.
A Congo Diary. Los Angeles, CA: Sylvester & Orphanos, 1980.
Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey. London: Deutsch, 1981.
The Enigma of Arrival. London: Viking, 1987.
India: A Million Mutinies Now. London: Heinemann, 1990.
A Way in the World. London: Heinemann, 1994.
Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples. 1998.
Reading and Writing: A Personal Account. 2000.
Half a life. London: Picador, 2001.

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