British author VS Naipaul, known for his literary achievements in writing about life in countries after they suffered colonialism, has died at the age of 85 at his home in London. His family announced the death in a statement. The cause of his death was not immediately known. VS Naipaul, who published more than two dozen volumes ranging from novels and travelogues, was infamous for his controversial statements.
The son of an Indian civil servant, he was born in Trinidad, and had made Britain his home. His early literary works focused on the West Indies and dealt with the trauma of post-colonial change.
He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2001, with the Swedish Academy describing him as a "literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice".
Tweets condoling Mr Naipaul's death came pouring in soon after news of his death broke.
Author Salman Rushdie tweeted, saying "we disagreed all our live about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother".
We disagreed all our lives, about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RIP Vidia. #VSNaipaul— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) August 12, 2018
Author Reza Aslan tweeted, commenting on his long-running literary feud with his former protege, Paul Theroux, saying he heard Mr Naipaul whispering, "One wishes things would have turned out differently". According to The Washington Post, Mr Theroux called Mr Naipaul "a grouch, a skinflint, tantrum-prone."
On the day of VS Naipaul's death, here is a video I took of the first encounter between Paul Theroux and Naipaul in Wales after 20 years of feuding. Naipaul whispers, "One wishes things would have turned out differently." Paul was shaking and almost cried. #VSNaipaulpic.twitter.com/rxOcPMXMUz— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) August 12, 2018
Author Amitav Ghosh shared "an old piece" he had written when he won the Nobel, saying there was "magic if reading Naipaul in those years."
British author Hari Kunzru, in a series of tweets, remembered Mr Naipaul, saying that during a TV interview, crew members were "alarmed" after he started to cry. In another tweet, Mr Kunzru said there was "a list of taboo subjects" he had promised to not bring up.
I interviewed VS Naipaul for BBC TV. When we sat down, the first thing he said was 'tell me what you've read and don't lie.' Only then would he consent to be questioned.— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) August 12, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled Mr Naipaul's death in a tweet, saying his works covered subjects ranging from "history, culture, colonialism, politics and more.
Sir VS Naipaul will be remembered for his extensive works, which covered diverse subjects ranging from history, culture, colonialism, politics and more. His passing away is a major loss to the world of literature. Condolences to his family and well wishers in this sad hour.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 12, 2018
Historian and author William Dalrymple also tweeted his condolences, saying "you couldn't help be stimulated, influenced & catalysed by the brilliance of his laser sharp vision," even if "you disagreed with much that he wrote".
RIP VS Naipaul, a giant among us. Even if you disagreed with much that he wrote, particularly about India, you couldn't help be stimulated, influenced & catalysed by the brilliance of his laser sharp vision. It was a great honour that his last appearance was @ZEEJLF— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) August 12, 2018
Mr Naipaul's biographer, historian Patrick French took to Twitter as well to share photographs from Mr Naipaul's past.
Despite his literary achievements, Mr Naipaul faced accusations of racism, sexism, chauvinism and Islamophobia throughout his life. In one instance cited by The Washington Post, he said "Africans need to be kicked," adding "that's the only thing they understand."
Mr Naipaul admitted to visiting prostitutes while being married, physically abusing his mistress and saying the treatment he meted out to his wife was equal to saying he had "killed her".
(With Inputs From Agencies)