I for one was enthralled when V. S. Naipaul began getting world attention. I even went out and bought is first book. Then disappointment set in–as we noticed his speeches, article and wrods. He was defending colonialism and openly speaking against Muslims and Islam. Mr. V.S. Naipaul could have used his fame and prestige to fight racism and bigotry. He actually used it to fan racism against Africans and bigotry against Muslims. His deep rooted bigoted pathology took him to the darkest corners of his racist thinking. He is a prolific writer, but his writing genius could not hide his dark side. Once the world discovered his darkest thoughts, the writers of the world rejected him. His best shining moment was the notoriety given to him right after 911. However that brief period did not last long.
Now his bigotry is catching up with him. He is being debunked in Africa and also in Europe. In other words V.S. Naipaul did not use his fifteen minutes of fame properly–and he blew it. He is increasingly shunned by Africans, and Muslim. The current snub against him by the European Parliament is just the tip of the iceberg. He is reviled in Africa.
- “Africa is not a fun place, you know. A fun place is somewhere that lifts the spirits, that cossets the senses. I don’t think that can be said of the Africa I traveled in.”
- In Britain, his latest book has received some scathing reviews for its depiction of Africans, their rituals and behavior.
- The literary world has become increasingly uncomfortable with Naipaul and his politics and his cold, uncompromising views on Africa and Islam. He has been described, among many other things, as a colonialist apologist and a racist.
- “The political reviews, they are about me. In a way my reputation has become that of the curmudgeon,” he said.
- His 1981 book “Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey,” revealed the emergence of a dangerous, fundamentalist Islam. It was rejected by many intellectuals as hard-line and one-sided.
VS Naipaul has has been dumped from a major literary event opening in Istanbul tomorrow after Turkish writers threatened a boycott because of his presence.
The row started over Naipaul’s invitation to give the opening speech at the European Writers’ Parliament (EWP), the brainchild of novelists Orhan Pamuk and José Saramago, which aims to bring together authors from across Europe to debate key issues of the contemporary literary scene. But several Turkish writers expressed outrage at the invitation, citing hostile comments Naipaul made about Islam nearly a decade ago.
Naipaul, who was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2001, caused controversy that same year by his remarks about Islam at a London reading from his book, Half a Life. The writer compared the religion to colonialism, saying Islam “has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say ‘my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn’t matter’.”
The Turkish poet and philosopher Hilmi Yavuz said Naipaul had “insulted” Muslims. He asked: “Will the consciences of our writers be at ease when sitting at the same table as VS Naipaul?” Fellow writer Cihan Aktas said: “The disgust he feels for Muslims in his books is appalling. I cannot attend the event given all of this.”
Ahmet Kot, literary director of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, which is running the author event, expressed surprise at the controversy. “I was expecting to get positive reactions for bringing together people with different views,” Kot said. Nevertheless, a joint statement from the EWP and Naipaul’s literary agency, Andrew Wylie, said the 78-year-old had withdrawn from the event “by mutual agreement” yesterday, after the “politicisation” of the conference in the Turkish media had “altered the original conception of the event and Sir VS Naipaul‘s contribution to it as a celebrated author”.
Naipaul, a Trinidadian of Indian descent, is the author of acclaimed novels including A House for Mr Biswas and the Booker prize-winning In a Free State, as well as a memoir of his life in England, The Enigma of Arrival. Awarding him the Nobel, the Swedish Academy praised his writing for its “incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”. He has long been a controversial fixture on the literary stage. In addition to his notorious public feud with fellow Trinidadian and Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, he has ignited furores on the issues of race and religion throughout his career. In his 1964 novel An Area of Darkness, he painted a highly critical portrait of India, while his reflections on Africa in his book The Masque of Africa, published earlier this year, were described as both “compellingly insightful” and “often brutal and sometimes downright rude”.
Though Naipaul is no longer attending the event, other illustrious names on the EWP programme include Vikram Seth, Hari Kunzru and Jason Goodwin. The event will run until Saturday 27 November, and is set to discuss such topics as the cultural commoditisation of books and literature tailored for mass consumption, as well as how globalisation, the digital era and multiculturalism have affected the conventional boundaries of literature.