BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: Arts
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 12 October, 2001, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Praise for Naipaul's Nobel
VS Naipaul
VS Naipaul's views are often controversial
UK author VS Naipaul, the son of an Indian civil servant, has been lauded by Indian newspapers as a worthy laureate after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Trinidad-born writer, described as a "literary circumnavigator" by the Nobel Academy, said the honour was a tribute to his ancestors in India and his father's countrymen have returned the tribute.

His level of perception is of the highest

Martin Amis
"At long last! Naipaul gets Nobel," was the headline in The Asian Age.

In its lead editorial, The Indian Express said that the writer in his works "uncovered forgotten layers of history... (and) found the narrative style and simple language to recount them in."

Damning criticism

The paper said he had an uncontested claim "to being the greatest living writer of English prose".

The Nobel has gone to a man who does not flinch from making enemies

John Casey, Cambridge University

The press also made note of Naipaul's damning criticism of Indian society in many of his works.

"The man who loves to wound civilisation," read a headline in The Statesman.

In the UK, the award was greeted with enthusiasm by many academics and those in the literary establishment.

Martin Amis said he was delighted by Naipaul's win.


"His level of perception is of the highest, and his prose has become the perfect instrument for realising those perceptions on the page," he told the Guardian.

In a comment piece for the newspaper, reviewer Maya Jaggi described Naipaul as an "ironic and controversial" choice.

She wrote: "His vision is marred, in the view of many, by bitter pessimism and prejudice masquerading as truth."

Jason Cowley, literary editor of the New Statesman, said Naipaul had produced the most "complex and demanding body of work of any postwar British writer".


He added: "In the canon of contemporary British writing he is without peer: a scourge of sentimentality, irrationalism and lazy left-liberal prejudices. He deserves the prize."

"No stranger to controversy, Naipaul has never ducked the uncomfortable," wrote Paula Burnett, an English lecturer at Brunel University, in the Independent.

John Casey, a fellow of Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said Naipaul had won many admirers, but few friends.

He wrote: "The Nobel Prize is often awarded with an eye to political correctness. So we should be glad, and a bit surprised that it has now gone to a man who does not flinch from making enemies."

See also:

21 Sep 01 | Reviews
The return of Naipaul
12 Oct 00 | Europe
Chinese writer wins Nobel prize
01 Oct 99 | World
The aura of the Nobel Prize
11 Oct 01 | Arts
Naipaul: A singular talent
12 Oct 00 | World
Profile: Gao Xingjian
08 Oct 01 | Health
British scientists scoop Nobel
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Arts stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Arts stories