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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 15:51 GMT
Naipaul's anger at Indian writers
Naipaul also met Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (left)
Naipaul (centre): Performance was "fantastically rude"
Nobel Prize-winning author VS Naipaul has launched a fierce tirade against some Indian authors, deriding what he sees as their obsession with the effects of colonialism and oppression.


My life is short - I can't listen to banality

VS Naipaul
Naipaul, born in Trinidad to parents of Indian descent, was taking part in a literary festival's discussion on whether Indian authors should write in English.

"My life is short. I can't listen to banality," he said after other authors set about the notion that English was still seen as the language of oppressors.

"And this thing about colonialism, this thing about gender oppression, the very word oppression wearies me. I don't know why, I think it is because banality irritates me."

Reportedly shaking with rage, a pat on the back from best-selling author Vikram Seth during the International Festival of Indian Literature debate did nothing to calm him.

Naipaul also met Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (left)
Naipaul also met Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (left)
"What are you doing!" Naipaul demanded. "This is only the second literary conference I have come to. The first was a calamity.

"I have attended two sessions here ... This has been the least fortunate session for me.

"If writers just sit and talk about oppression, they are not going to do much writing. And my difference on that kind of attitude is that I have to make a living by writing."

Nayantara Sehgal, the writer who bore the brunt of Naipaul's attack, said she would not "say a word" more.

"Naipaul is fantastically rude," an official from the festival's organisers, the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, said. "It is difficult to organise a festival with him as an invitee."

Last year, the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for works that "compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories".

Celebrated

His most famous works include A House For Mr Biswas, A Bend In The River and In a Free State.

But he has never been afraid of stirring controversy, criticising India in his books An Area of Darkness and India: A Wounded Civilization.

Last year he said Islam had a "calamitous effect on converted peoples" and has described his country of birth as "unimportant, uncreative, cynical... a dot on the map".

He moved from Trinidad to the UK in the 1950s and has become one of the world's most celebrated writing talents.

See also:

23 Oct 01 | Arts
Trinidad tribute to Naipaul
12 Oct 01 | Arts
Praise for Naipaul's Nobel
11 Oct 01 | Arts
Naipaul: A singular talent
02 Aug 01 | Arts
VS Naipaul attacks Forster
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