On V.S. Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul in 2001, the year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.Credit Chris Ison Associated Press

V.S. Naipaul in 2001, the year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.Credit Chris Ison Associated Press

He never looked away. I was with him in Wiltshire soon after my father, the governor of Punjab in Pakistan, was assassinated. I had been estranged from my father and was not sure how to mourn him. Mr. Naipaul, with an honesty that released me from guilt, said: “But your father was also your great enemy. So, his death must come with a feeling of relief.” It was something I would not have dared to think, let alone say. That honesty came alongside an immense and dangerous sense of humor. I’d been asked a number of times whether I thought my father had died for Pakistan. I was not sure how to reply. When I asked Mr. Naipaul what he thought, he paused for a moment then said, with a roll of that terrifying unsentimental laughter, “Better to say he died IN Pakistan. Yes, yes, yes. Better to say that.”
(Aatish Taseer, “V.S. Naipaul, My Wonderful, Cruel Friend,” NYTimes, 8-12-18)

[Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to On V.S. Naipaul

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    Not sure what the salient point here was to inspire you to share this. Died IN Pakistan rather than FOR it. I think I have a general understanding of that.

    I just wanted to share something about V.S. Naipaul. Once while traveling in Western China (China becomes Tibetan in the West) I happened on a V.S. Naipaul book in a coffee shop. I started reading it, about an Indian servant who moved with his Indian “master” to Washington D.C.. I was completely immersed in it, but they wouldn’t let me buy the book from them. They had stacks of used books for customers to read while drinking coffee, but you couldn’t buy them.

    Aaaaand here’s a little compliment for you. Work up, read some abysmal trash on the internet, a.k.a. “news” and started to get depressed about it. I thought I might prefer to read what an intelligent voice has to say, and deliberately sought out your blog for a snippet of more wholesome fodder. And so you happened to remind me of a great piece of writing I never got to finish, but a great piece of writing, and how rejuvenating a thing that is. So much politics these days, and even the art world is alienating, hostile, depressing, and infuriating(ly stupid). But that V.S. Naipaul story was so rich and human that it transported me, even as I was already traveling in an amazing area of China that sees few tourists.

    • JMN says:

      Thanks for this. I appreciate the compliment. You’ve inspired me to provide a little context for the citation in the blog. That’s a great benefit of having a thoughtful reader. You have unique experiences for responding to Naipaul that I don’t have, what with your travels and immersion in Eastern culture. Thanks again for stimulating input.

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