PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Monday August 13, 2018 – Trinidadian-born Nobel Laureate Sir V.S. Naipaul has died at the age of 85.
He died at home in Britain on Saturday, less than a week before his next birthday, his widow Lady Naipaul confirmed. She said her husband, whom she described as a giant in all that he achieved, died “surrounded by those he loved, having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour.”
Sir Vidia, who moved to London in 1954, won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature. He published more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, over half a century, with his early novels set in his home country.
In a tribute to the late novelist shortly after his death, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he had “established himself as an icon in the literary arts on the global stage and his world-renowned achievements caused his birthplace to shine in a positive light”.
“His literary works will always remain a testimony of his strength and amazing talent as well as ensure that he will never be forgotten. May he rest in peace,” he said.
Meantime, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar described Sir Vidia’s works as inspiring and uplifting to for people of her generation – “the children of the post-Colonial society that was Trinidad and Tobago, a society and people struggling to find and assume our identity after centuries of being ruled as marginal addendums to a social, economic and political framework that previously treated us as merely tolerated outcasts”.
“Like so many of my local and regional contemporaries, I would have been raised on books from Europe and England which described and deified people, cultures and civilisations that essentially reflected all that I could never be, until, as teenager and young adult I read ‘Miguel Street’, ‘The Mystic Masseur’ and ‘A House for Mr Biswas’. And it was in these works, still so dear and personal to me, as they also are undoubtedly to many other of my countrymen and women, that Sir Vidia’s greatest contribution to my country and the world became not only clear, but inspiring in the greatest possible way,” she said.
Two of those works which Persad-Bissessar mentioned, won awards. ‘The Mystic Masseur’ was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1958, and ‘Miguel Street’ the Somerset Maugham Award in 1961 with W. Somerset Maugham himself approving the first-ever selection of a non-European for the prize.