Sunday, April 06, 2008

French, Patrick. "Leaving the Ghetto [on Naipaul]." NEW STATESMAN April 3, 2008.

When V. S. Naipaul published his slim, grumpy memoir A Writer's People late last year, assorted reviewers took the chance to denounce him. It was a familiar spectacle, the lion in winter having chunks torn from him by writers who would not have attacked him in his prime. In Naipaul's case, his determined self-construction during five decades in print was a provocation in itself: who was this Trinidadian man who lived as a knight of the shires and denounced multiculturalism as "multi-culti"? He said, or was said to have said, that Africa had no future, Islam was a calamity, France was fraudulent and interviewers were monkeys. How dare he support Hindu nationalism? If Zadie Smith - optimistic and presentable - was a white liberal's dream, Naipaul was the nightmare. For a successful immigrant writer to take the positions he did was seen as a special kind of treason, a betrayal of what should be a purely literary genius. "Great art, dreadful politics," complained Terry Eagleton. . . . Read the rest here:

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