Taking its title from the strangely frozen picture by the surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, The Enigma of Arrival tells the story of a young Indian from the Caribbean arriving in post-imperial England and consciously, over many years, finding himself as a writer. It is the story of a journey, from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another, and is perhaps V. S. Naipaul's most autobiographical work. Yet alongside this he weaves a rich and complex web of invention and observation.
Finding depth and pathos in the smallest moments - the death of a cottager, the firing of an estate's gardener - Naipaul also comprehends the bigger picture - watching as the old world is lost to the gradual but permanent changes wrought on the English landscape by the march of `progress'.
`Written with the expected beauty of style . . . Instead of diminishing life, Naipaul ennobles it' Anthony Burgess, Observer
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.