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Naipaul to publish fourth book on India

Insisting in decisive tones that he has no plans to retire, V S Naipaul has announced the publication of his fourth book on India.

books Updated: Apr 30, 2007 15:18 IST
V S Naipaul

Insisting in decisive tones that he has no plans to retire, V S Naipaul has announced publication of his fourth book on India. He said that this book will be ready for the bookshelves by year's end.

Asked that if his harsh criticisms of India in his previous works, notably An Area of Darkness, India - A Million Mutinies, India - A Wounded Civilisation, have changed, Naipaul said that these works are relevant today as when they were published.

He did not reveal his thoughts on the fourth publication.

At a press conference and later, luncheon, at the Principal's Office of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Naipaul said that returning to the land of his birth after he retired from writing was in abeyance.

"When I retire the question might arise. I am still working. A writer's job is never completed." In the same vein, Naipaul repeated his claim that he learnt nothing at Oxford University, but enjoyed the opportunity to write." I would do it all over again.I wouldn't change a thing. It was my vocation to do it."

On the question of neglecting to recognise Trinidad and Tobago as the land of his birth when he received word that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, his wife, Lady Nadira, intervened and took the blame for this anomaly.

Lady Naipaul said: "I made that mistake.I was taken aback. It was my negligence. It was nothing to do with my husband. The statement to the press was given by me. I am at fault here.It had nothing to do with my husband who was fast asleep - he slept for eight hours."

Asked to define which of his books were his greatest work of art, Naipaul muttered that writing was a developmental process for the author and to select any one work would lose the idea of writing. "All of it matters," he said.

And at Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College, on invitation by Satnarayan Maharaj, secretary general of the Santan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), Naipaul warned the high school students: "Everyone who wants to write has to find his own way and anyone who pretends to give you advice may get you into trouble."

He was caustic and at times seemed to be in a temper, as was evidenced in his responses to several questions from the students.

"I don't understand what you're saying. I believe I have answered many times before.Obviously you weren't paying attention. Go back and listen and learn something from it," or "From your question it's quite obvious you have not understood my works. Your questions would have more meaning to me if there was more knowledge in them."

He also announced that he had no plans to write another novel about Trinidad, adding that,"you write novels out of great knowledge" as he was not familiar with this country as one cannot "pick up material" from a visit.

Naipaul's visit charmed the people of this country to the extent that the Political Leader of the Congress of the People, Winston Dookeran has called on the government of Trinidad and Tobago to name the National Library after the Nobel Laureate.

And in a commentary giving 21 reasons to celebrate the life and work of Naipaul, the principal of the University of the West Indies, Bhoe Tewarie, said: "The world has acknowledged V S Naipaul as a great writer, England has adopted him as a British writer, India has welcomed him as a writer of Indian ancestry who offers valuable insights worth taking seriously. Trinidad and Tobago needs to embrace V S Naipaul as its own, just as Naipaul, perhaps, needs to have a reconciliation with Trinidad and Tobago. A celebration of Naipaul's life and work in Trinidad and Tobago is a good opportunity for such a happening. The University of the West Indies is well positioned to play such a constructive role."