A Writer's People
Part meditation, part remembrance, A Writer’s People by V. S. Naipaul is a privileged insight, full of gentleness, humour and feeling, into the mind of one of our greatest writers.
For the ‘serious traveller’, one who is fully engaged with the world, there can be no single view. Our author’s purpose, then, ‘is not literary criticism or biography’, but only to set out the writing and ways of seeing to which he was exposed. So here is colonial Trinidad (the early Derek Walcott and Naipaul’s own father); the culture of school (Flaubert and the classical world); England, where with the help of friends the writer seeks to make his way; and, inevitably for a colonial Indian, there is India, to be approached through the residue of Indian culture and the scattered memories of nineteenth-century immigrants, leading to a special understanding of Mahatma Gandhi.
Essential reading . . . it offers the insights and observations – on literature, history and cultural sensibility – of an honest and truly global thinker.
The greatest writer now living in Britain. His courage in seeing and telling the truth represents a level of high seriousness that has all but vanished.
Naipaul has a sharp visual sense . . . And then there is his chiselled prose, elegant and economical: who, now living, writes as well as he?