Cover image for Conversations with V. S. Naipaul
Conversations with V. S. Naipaul
Jussawalla, Feroza F., 1953-
Publication Information:
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
Physical Description:
xxi, 174 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9272.9.N32 Z55 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Intense, controversial, unfailingly clever, V. S. Naipaul has won nearly every major British writing award, including the prestigious Booker Award (in 1971 for In a Free State ) and in 1990 was knighted for his literary accomplishments. Born of Indian parents in Trinidad in 1932, he has little sympathy for the land of his birth or forefathers. All that he puts under his microscope--nations, peoples, religions, or ethnic groups--are targets of his clear-sightedness, and he shows no patience with pretense or delusions.

This collection brings together interviews from a thirty-six-year span and reveals a witty, sometimes scathing talker with a free-ranging curiosity, but one who dreads intimacy and cherishes a solitary detachment. This collection shows the changing faces of this world-class author. In early interviews, mostly given to such fellow writers and colleagues as Derek Walcott and the poet Eric Roach, Naipaul is clipped, brusque, and clearly impatient with interviewers. More recent interviews, given primarily to journalists rather than literary figures, reveal a maturing Naipaul, often warm, passionate, and forthcoming about his private life.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Because Naipaul is an important writer, and because some of these 23 interviews are reprinted from inaccessible sources, this book will prove useful. Jussawalla claims that the story of Naipaul's life as related in these interviews is almost a novel or a "typical 'postcolonial bildungsroman,'" but she is not convincing. Naipaul repeatedly emphasizes his dislike of typical postcolonial attitudes. Other favorite themes include the cultural poverty of the West Indies; his difficulties adjusting to England; his recurrent feelings of panic; and his admiration for Flaubert and Balzac. As one might expect, Naipaul is often deliberately provocative, as when he states that "for works to last, they must have a certain clear-sightedness. And to achieve that, one perhaps needs a few prejudices." Since the best recent criticism of Naipaul, such as Rob Nixon's London Calling (CH, Oct'92) and Fawzia Mustafa's V.S. Naipaul (CH, Oct'96), is not always sympathetic, a collection that allows Naipaul the chance to speak out was needed. Unfortunately, the book has not been carefully proofread, but it does include a helpful chronology and full bibliographic information. Recommended for all libraries. T. Ware; Queen's University at Kingston