Wednesday, October 18, 2006

India, not an important literary country: Naipaul

In an interview with Arno Widmann, Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul talks nice and nasty as ever about Indian literature. "India is finding its feet. Slowly. But it might not become a really important literary country. It's too dependent on the rest of the world, on how they view its literary production. Books are being written for the international market and foreign critics. And the authors read the most diverse styles and think they can copy them. They think they can be Latin America, G√ľnter Grass or James Joyce. Where is their own perspective, their own sensibility? This isn't only the case with Indian authors. There are the Chinese authors that write about the horrors of the cultural revolution; they've all taken 'creative writing' courses in the USA and write identically."

Many will contest this generalised claim but the good thing about Naipaul is that he has not revised his views for a long time. The only novel that Naipaul has recommended, to come out of India in recent years, is Tarun Tejpal's The Alchemy of Desire.

Sheela Reddy has this interesting remark in a recent Outlook story: "Let's face it: V.S. Naipaul was dead right when he declared the novel dead. And in his usual forceful way, he went on to hammer the last nails into its coffin by giving us not one, but two, dud novels: Half A Life and Magic Seeds."


Anonymous said...

Naipaul's as sharp as ever. I agree with that remark about writing for critics and for the West though.

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