Part meditation, part remembrance, A Writer's People by V. S. Naipaul is a privileged insight, full of gentleness, humour and feeling, into the mind of one of our greatest writers.
For the `serious traveller', one who is fully engaged with the world, there can be no single view. Our author's purpose, then, `is not literary criticism or biography', but only to set out the writing and ways of seeing to which he was exposed. So here is colonial Trinidad (the early Derek Walcott and Naipaul's own father); the culture of school (Flaubert and the classical world); 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.
V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He came to England on a scholarship in 1950. He spent four years at University College, Oxford, and began to write, in London, in 1954. He pursued no other profession. His novels include A House for Mr Biswas, The Mimic Men, Guerrillas, A Bend in the River, and The Enigma of Arrival. In 1971 he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State. His works of nonfiction, equally acclaimed, include Among the Believers, Beyond Belief, The Masque of Africa, and a trio of books about India: An Area of Darkness, India: A Wounded Civilization and India: A Million Mutinies Now. In 1990, V.S. Naipaul received a knighthood for services to literature; in 1993, he was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. He lived with his wife Nadira and cat Augustus in Wiltshire, and died in 2018.