The celebrated Trinidadian writer, Sir V S Naipaul, died in London on August 11, six days before his 86th birthday. Rated as one of the 20th century's great literary figures, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.
Naipaul belonged to a cast of Caribbean thinkers who emerged during British colonial rule. Others included his compatriot C L R James and the St Lucian poet Sir Derek Walcott, who was also a Nobel laureate.
Though he had an indifferent relationship with his homeland, Trinidad inspired some of Naipaul's finest work such as Miguel Street, A House for Mr Biswas and The Loss of El Dorado.
The semi-autobiographical A House for Mr Biswas, released in 1961, was his masterpiece. It was internationally praised and earned Naipaul lasting fame.
Since the 1950s when he left Trinidad to attend Oxford University, Naipaul lived in England. He was a giant in British intelligentsia, but consistently criticised his adopted homeland's class system and some of its literary legends, including Charles Dickens.
Naipaul's caustic attacks earned him several foes, even among admirers. Walcott, with whom he had a long-running feud, once described him as “V S Nightfall” but readily stressed the influence Naipaul's early work had on his career.
Yesterday, Indo-British author Salman Rushdie paid tribute to Naipaul on Twitter.
“We disagreed all our lives — about politics, about literature — and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RIP Vidia.”
While his ties to Trinidad were strained, Naipaul never lost touch with his Indian heritage. He had a massive following in India, where his grandparents left for rural Trinidad in the 1880s.
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990, is survived by his wife Nadira. His first wife, Patricia Hale, died in 1996.