Shortlisted for the 2008 BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction
This is the first major biography of V.S. Naipaul, Nobel Prize winner and one of the most compelling literary figures of the last fifty years.
With great feeling for his formidable body of work, and exclusive access to his private papers and personal recollections, Patrick French has produced a lucid and astonishing account of this enigmatic genius: one which looks sensitively and unflinchingly at his relationships, his development as a writer and as a man, his outspokenness, his peerless creativity, and his extraordinary and enduring position both outside and at the very centre of literary culture.
‘Its clarity, honesty, even-handedness, its panoramic range and close emotional focus, above all its virtually unprecedented access to the dark secret life at its heart, make it one of the most gripping biographies I’ve ever read’ Hilary Spurling, Observer
‘A brilliant biography: exemplary in its thoroughness, sympathetic but tough in tone . . . Reading it I was enthralled – and frequently amused (how incredibly funny Naipaul can be!)’ Spectator
‘A masterly performance . . . If a better biography is published this year, I shall be astonished’ Allan Massie, Literary Review
‘Remarkable. This biography will change the way we read Naipaul’s books’ Craig Brown, Book of the Week, Mail on Sunday