Disappointed in Sir Vidia Naipaul

Sir Vidia NaipaulI am a high school student attending a college under the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha. I witnessed an event at the headquarters of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha on April 20. Sir VS Naipaul was the guest of honour and he agreed to answer questions asked by the students of the various schools who attended the event.

Students approached the microphone with questions for the distinguished author but he chose to ignore them. When he was asked about his reason for evading the questions, he described the questions as trivial and refused to answer them. He even went on to say that he always thought that literature was for adults and not children and he proceeded to say that this was now proven to him.

I ask you Sir Vidia, if you think that literature is not for children why did you waste our time with your presence? Why did you agree to come here and tell us we were free to ask questions when you were so bold to think that a child’s mind could not comprehend the depth of your literary works?

Such a high honour you received when you were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in front of people of importance, you displayed honour and class. Yet, in the presence of high school students that looked up to you, such arrogance and pomposity did you show.

The country’s newspapers were plastered with your smiling face and the youths, our country’s future, idolised you. Now, the person we once worshipped has fallen before our eyes, I for one, think that you are no role model. When you were a child, had you not written at least one story, one composition, one essay? Had you not dreamed of being an author? However, according to the words from your own lips, literature was not for you at the time, you were a child, not an adult, right? Your immature mind could not understand the scribblings of an adult, not so?

Our small country has not produced many people that have attained your importance, so we had to be proud of you. We had to be proud to say you were a Trinidadian, but are you proud to be a Trinidadian? I can say now, that when I hear the name VS Naipaul, I will say he is not a great person, he is not an icon, he is not my idol, I do not look up to him, he is not a Trinidadian.

High School Student

via e-mail

$2M for Naipaul’s visit
ALMOST $2M was reportedly the cost of bringing Nobel Laureate Sir Vidia Naipaul, to Trinidad and Tobago this month. The sum includes a fee paid directly to Sir Vidia for his various appearances at public events.

Wife: Sorry for Nobel Prize ‘snub’
Asked about the omission to mention TT upon being notified of the Nobel Prize, Lady Nadira stepped in to take the blame. She said the family had been “completely taken aback” when news reached them about winning the award. She said Sir Vidia had then gone to sleep for eight hours leaving her to write the press release which had unwittingly failed to mention Trinidad and Tobago. “I made that mistake. I was taken aback. It was my negligence. It was nothing to do with my husband,” she apologised. “The statement to the press was given by me. I am at fault here. It had nothing to do with my husband who was fast asleep — he slept for eight hours.”

Trinis are not Indian, African
Indo-Trinidadians are not Indian, nor are Afro-Trinidadians African.
This was one of the comments from Trinidad-born Nobel laureate Sir Vidia Naipaul, who drew applause and laughter as he fielded questions from a panel of local academics and a 3000-strong audience on Wednesday night at UWI’s Sports and Physical Education Centre in St Augustine.

UPDATE: April 29th 2007

Sir Vidia Naipaul’s puzzling behaviour

Humanity has so many faces, some kind and gentle, others intolerant and violent, yet others noble and visionary, and many that dominated the lives of others, sometimes positively, but more often negatively. But there are those individuals who by their sheer creativity, often much tortured, set themselves apart in their life’s quest and capture, for the benefit of mankind, eternal aspects of the human soul in its wanderings.

His responses to schoolchildren at a specially convened function certainly startled the young minds asking questions. It is not that he was in the presence of semi-literate dropouts from our education system. These were bright and eager young minds, rapidly developing individual personalities at a critical time in their lives, as must certainly have been the case in Sir Vidia’s pursuit of his scholarship at QRC decades ago.

Yet he dismissed or rather crushed them with his refusal to answer their questions. They were trivial. Not only were they trivial, literature is not for children. In his student days we are sure that Sir Vidia read the greats in English literature-Shakespeare and the rest-in much the same way that some students today read his A House for Mr Biswas.

Full Article : trinidadexpress.com

17 Responses to “Disappointed in Sir Vidia Naipaul”


  • Frances-Anne Solomon

    Dear High School Student
    Everybody knows that Sir Vidia Naipaul is rude and badly behaved, he has a reputation for saying stupid and untrue things, both in his books, and in person, and especially about Trinidad and it’s people.
    It is no surprise that he acted inappropriately during your school visit. It’s unfortunate but completely true to form. Forget about him.
    Look elsewhere for role models. The world is full of wonderful Caribbean people, and of Caribbean heritage who have achieved great things in every area of the arts and sciences. Have pride in YOURSELF and trust your own instincts. Be great, do well, and be a role model for those around you!

  • Greetings!

    If any one in Trinidad is looking for a role model, we lost him not long ago and I have named………

    MR LLYOD BEST………..one of the Great THINKER, Economist and Humanbeing
    of the while Carribean………..

    I still have tears in my eyes by just mentionning his name…….

    Thank you

  • Trinidadians have come close up with an arrogant bigot that thinks everything white is sacred and sacrosanct. Naipaul is sorry he was born or deposited in Trinidad and through his migration he has become honorary white rather than a knight. I am always suspicious of those knighted by colonial slave holders with some exception of the sportsmen who received this dubious award.
    Naipaul writings imbued with xenophobia misinformation and friction misrepresent the scholarly heights of genuine writers. His award had all to do with the timing or cycle in which the Caribbean time was due for a selection; therefore it is a political selection rather one based on true scholarly talent contrary to that bestowed on the honoured Clide Wallcot. It beats me how Naipaul draws a following much less retain appearance fees. Go find an genuine audience not our aspiring school children.

  • Prudence Young-Gordon

    I have always said that V.S. Naipaul and Dwight York are the two most ungrateful people to be in the public’s eye and condemn their own land.
    The accidental omission of Trinidad and Tobago from his award ceremony was in no way accidental, it is a wonder that he even allow the world to know that he is from Trinidad.
    As for Dwight York when he was interviewed and told the reporter that he was happy to be out of “that” country because he would be sitting under a coconut tree by the sea doing nothing all day.
    My jaw fell loose from shock and dismay, but as the man said he is true to his word and he stands by his comments.
    So there.
    Never in my mind did I think he or any one would openly admit this to the world but it is there to be seen and heard.
    Naipaul (and this is my guess) only returned because of the incentive of money and the question to be asked is it in TT or is it in £.
    For what ever the reason these people are embarrassed of being born in Trinidad and Tobago, when they should be proud and shout and let the world know that, this is what a “third world countries produced, shaped, created ” they would rather come from any where else but here.
    I let every one know where I’m from and who shaped my mind.
    Thank God for Real County Men and Women.

  • Sir Vidia Naipaul is basically ungrateful.
    Without Trinidad, would he even be where he is now, considering influence that Trinidadian society has had on his novels??

  • This poor man has squandered his opportuity to give back to a community which spawned the rich experiences,ideas
    and imagery through his ethnicity as well as cultural heritage.This was no accident.
    He is a product of his environment,a hybrid of his emigration. The product being the scholar,writer and literary genius, the hybrid is the bitter,condescending and unhappy lndividual he has become.
    His aloofness is well known and has been exhibited long before his being knighted.Read some of his earlier works. He is no more genteel to what should be his mother country India, than he is to his natal home Trinidad.
    He probbaly thought that by emigrating to England that
    he would have been readily accepted there as an equal, and would forever be rid of ‘that country’. The social isolation he may have experienced as a descendant of indentured slaves and as immigrant, first in Trinidad and later on as ex patriate in England, having to homogenize into a community that marginalized 3rd world immigrants(despite the fact that they carried British passports, and tickets off the ocean liners on which they arrived) spawned the sardonic person he has become.
    He is therefore exhibiting the fact that he is not an over-comer, and unable to forgive even himself far more anyone else.He does not like himself,or anyone who looks like him!!!
    No one succeeds alone.Has Mr Naipaul considered that in order for him to finally have been knighted by the Queen, as a literary luminary,that someone other than his immediate family had to have purchased his books, or borrowed them from libraries,used them in research, and quoted from them in bibliographies etc?and that some of his (readers were among those students that he summarily dismissed as undeserving of having their questions answered).
    We all need each other, and are interdependent on each other as the Mighty Sparrow so deftly outlines in his
    calypso ‘Interdependence'(Vigilance-Millenium Series)
    I concur with Ms Solomon on the fact that there are other deserving Carribbean role models who daily, are leaving their legacy of art ,literature,etc and exemplary character as memorial to their creativity,sharing and caring about the development and future of youth in Trinidad and Tobago as well as the rest of the Caribbean.
    Lesson learnt: Don’t take one’s self so seriously that one forgets one’s own origins.Remember God our creator is always watching to see how we utilize the opportunities He gives us, to glorify Him. Don’t squander any of them.

  • Genius in one realm seldom translates across to even mediocrity in other realms. I’ve loved and probably will always love Naipaul’s writing but I’ve learned enough in life to know that it is almost never wise to idolize people based on their accomplishments alone. Machel Montano is a musical genius, and no role model. Kobe Bryant is an absolute genius in basketball… but no role model. There is a litany of actors, politicians, musicians etc. who fit this mold and you can’t expect someone to be everything to everyone. Does this mean I won’t buy a Machel cd or go see him live? Does this mean I would refuse to watch Kobe pour in 80 points in a game or refuse to watch a movie with Russel Crowe? What if Brian Lara says or does something incredibly stupid tomorrow, would that change our opinion of him as a sportsman? We should allow for people to be human….even extraordinarily gifted people….and not let it detract from what we have come to respect them for…even as we attempt to hold them to a higher standard as individuals worthy of our adulation.

  • Amazing, is it not, that in his Nobel acceptance speech, Derek Walcott paid more tribute to Trinidad than Naipaul ever would.Those who have never read it, The Antilles, need to do so to experience the love of country, of both birth and adpoption that Walcott possesses. I know he criticized us for failing to provide a permanent home for the arts- and he should, but his imagery of the dry heat of Port-of-Spain, and why people write, the daily poetry of life, his descriptin of Felicity Village; these are memorable images of a man in love with his Caribbean. Sir Nye Paul, a created Brahmin, is not in his class.

    Those of you recently exposed to Naipaul’s contemptuous behavior must be quite glad now, that our National Library of Trinidad and Tobago, Colin Laird’s love affair in concrete and glass, was not named for Sir Vidia. Yet neither big daily would even think of serializing “The Antilles” even though it is ashort essay. Do we have a longing to be abused; an undying passion for those who spit on us?

  • Kobe Bryant is an absolute genius in basketball… but no role model. There is a litany of actors, politicians, musicians etc. who fit this mold and you can’t expect someone to be everything to everyone. Does this mean I won’t buy a Machel cd or go see him live? Does this mean I would refuse to watch Kobe pour in 80 points in a game or refuse to watch a movie with Russel Crowe? What if Brian Lara says or does something incredibly stupid tomorrow, would that change our opinion of him as a sportsman? We should allow for people to be human….even extraordinarily gifted people….and not let it detract from what we have come to respect them for…even as we attempt to hold them to a higher standard as individuals worthy of our adulation.

    There is a chasm of difference between the mis-steps people make that are a consequence of our human fraility, and the deliberate “dissing” of the geographic incubator that jurtured your existence. Using the quoted kind of reasoning to white wash Naipaul is transparently disingenuous.

    Mussolini and Hitler made the trains run on time, so given that they might have been gifted transportation administrators, should we allow for their humanity? Kobe Bryant was charged if you forget. He was lambasted in the media in case you forget. He suffered social ostracism lest you forget. It is not as if these people were not raked over the coals for their indescretions as is currently being done with Naipal. So, exactly what kind of skewed reasoning are you bringing to this discussion with your post?

  • According to more in-depth coverage of this story, (for instance Raymond Ramcharitar’s blog…TrinidadMediaArtsandCulture) Naipaul showed remarkable restraint and patience while subjected to idiotic questions for a little over an hour from what passes for “brilliant young minds” in this country these days (and we’re talking A-level students here…not primary schoolers). Questions ranged from the insipid and childish – “What is your favourite book and why?”, to the farcical “Would you rather Bollywood or Hollywood turn your books into movies?” to questions on specific books that Naipaul was forced to chastise the questioner for obviously not reading the self same book. The cocky students even antagonized him outright by complaining loudly at his attempt to have them raise the level of the discourse by jeering him for “not answering their questions”. How patient would any scholar or teacher be in such circumstances? We’re not talking 5 minutes of questions here…and the organizers exercised no editorial oversight to ensure a high standard as to the questions posed. All of this came to light after my posting, but I stand by my initial statement.

    As for the completely boorish, moronic and intellectually dishonest attempt to compare the artistic talents of V.S. Naipaul, and in fact all others named in my post by extension, to Hitler’s ability to run the trains on time as you put it Ruel Daniel…. I won’t even justify that with a comment except to say: Maybe you hold a high regard for those who administrate over public services to compare such with art…but perhaps you forget that you live in a country where administration of public services by the present PNM government constitutes a far greater injustice to this society than any writer chastising the intentionally undereducated products of such monumental levels of administrative incompetence. Or perhaps you equate such levels of incompetence to high-art in which case you may be right.

    There’s far more wrong with this country right now than V.S. Naipaul being grouchy so let’s get some perspective. Your response to my comment was so vitriolic in contrast to my statement that one would swear I was trying to take away your SmartCard on grocery day….so chill with the animosity before someone mistakes you for V.S. Naipaul.

  • As for the completely boorish, moronic and intellectually dishonest attempt to compare the artistic talents of V.S. Naipaul, and in fact all others named in my post by extension, to Hitler’s ability to run the trains on time as you put it Ruel Daniel…. I won’t even justify that with a comment except to say: Maybe you hold a high regard for those who administrate over public services to compare such with art…but perhaps you forget that you live in a country where administration of public services by the present PNM government constitutes a far greater injustice to this society than any writer chastising the intentionally undereducated products of such monumental levels of administrative incompetence. Or perhaps you equate such levels of incompetence to high-art in which case you may be right.

    The PNM’s incompetence as compared to what, Panday’s regime? You advanced the most ridiculous and facetious comparisona to stave off criticism of Naipal, and still have the gall to hurl criticsim at others. Give me break man.

    About the most boorish and ignorant species this world is spawning today, is a population of establishment buffoons too puffed up with symbolic peer recognition to remember that they too were once intellectually fragile and undeveloped. In other words, Naipal has his head stuck up his rear end, and my view of him will not be altered by the nattering nabobs who expect everyone to be humble and obsequious at the sound of his name. He is your God not mine, and not even a knighthood and all the credits of his peers will ever make him that. So you can take your indignation and shove it where the sun do not shine. This is an outspoken and emancipated African responding to you, not a shuffling “stepping fletch”.

  • Two weeks ago in New York, I was sitting in my living room and was flipping through the channels, and there I came upon the news round-up in T & T. I saw the mediocre writer Vidia Naipaul and his mouth piece(wife).

    I saw this edemic snub with his turned up nose at the students that were posing questions to him. To him the questions might be trivial, but he couldn’t answer the questions? By my observations, in his senile state and just by what he said demonstrate his mediocrity.

    Why would he say that he hadn’t gotten anything from the students. I was under the impression that he was supposed to inspire the students and to inform them about his experiences and what they as students might need to do to aspire to the same aspirations and better yet surpass his accomplishments.

    But this arrogant, mediocre individual choose to insult our bright young minds instead. And what utter nonesense to be uttered by a laureate that “he had always believed that literature is for adults…” What dark ages are he living in.

    And to the president of the Maha Saba, how dare you try to and more insult to the students that the questions that were posed were not good enough and maybe the students should study harder. What crap is that. Is Vidia someone to be worshipped. To me, the students were very clear and that student that had enough guts to challenge and pose the question as to “why Naipaul was not answering their questions” was right on the mark.

    Naipaul will know when his royalities from his books diminish in time to come. I don’t think that his writings is celebrated anywhere other than in T & T. Vidia, only came for the money for his appearance and that doesn’t say much about him if he has to return to T & T in his senilic and gluttonous looking state in a last ditch effort to milk a few dollars from T & T. Sir Naipaul has a title but no money to back it up. So, he is really angry at himself, but projects his anger on helpless students.

    As bad as Naipaul looked, he should have shown better deportment.
    Since he is so disappointed then why not have some grace and give the money back. And ask for that flimsy excuse his wife made about omitting T & T in his speech that furthur extends his mediocrity. Why would a literary great rely on a speech written by his wife. Does he lack the ability to speak from impromptu? He should at no time be at a lost for words after all words are his forte`.

    And did anyone noticed that he was just sitting there while his wife spoke on his behalf. T & T you have been hoodwinked by a “Dead man Walking” in case any of the viewers didn’t notice.

    As you all can see, I am still pissed at this Laureate at the way he treated our young aspiring students and how he tried to break their spirits. What really was his purpose for coming to T & T. I say put that over-weight & pompous individual back on a plane back to his massa land. See you Naipaul don’t let the door hit yuh in the ass.

  • Hmm.. So I guess only non-Africans have the courage to view the PNM for what they are? So much for you being “outspoken and emancipated”. You are shackled by your personal history and can’t argue your way out of a paper bag because of it. Thanks for assuming you know my race – because my view differs from yours – as it only makes you look even MORE ignorant.

  • Abdolmajid Jafari Saray

    William Faulkner dedicated all he had got as Nobel Prize to Africans since he believed that he had gained the prize because of them though he had dedicated even his own life to Africans in America. Naipaul dedicated his own people in Trinidad and India to his writings and sacrificed them harshly to gain the Nobel Prize. So how do you expect such a personality who has had a lot of psychic problem in his life and is an illiterate person who doe not see the affairs clearly, to behave like a gentlemen? He is against universities and schools since they enlighten the people. he wants them to be closed down to easily force his rubbish ideas into the minds of people. I used to like Naipaul, but since I started a serious research on his works for my PhD degree, I realized that even he is not a good novelist. He just justified well, which we say, shophism, like sophists who justify and only justify without substantiating. Even his Nobel Prize is for his self betrayal that arrogant powers like, that third world people betray themselves and make it easier for them. Naipaul hates her mother, as he says to Diana Athill, and he hates children, he used to hate his ex-wife Pat, he even hates himself and shows this in his novels like Half a Life. So we should not be so enraged at his behavior and sayings. Just we can approach his world from a Psychological point of view and study the world of a Psychic and Paranoid.

  • ‘I was abused as a child’
    Trinidad-born Nobel Lau-reate Sir VS Naipaul was sexually molested as a child by a male relative for years, a new authorised biography published this month reveals.

  • Welcome to the real world and stop being a spoilt child.
    Your peers had the opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity, to be with Sir Vidia . . . .
    What do you all do? Ask the same silly questions in different forms.
    The great man had the right to be annoyed
    I had been honoured to chat with Sir Vidia and what I learnt in the 45 minutes sitting with him, is invaluable.

  • Sir Vidia, or Mr. Nye PAul may be the end-product of a culture of hate quietly engendered in his home country, as a child. I find myself re-reading Derek Walcott’s The Antilles- The Nobel Lecture, and his joyful beginning ” Felicity is a village on the Caroni Plain” The pride Walcott takes in his Caribbean is in such contrast to Naipaul. All works are autobiographical. Read Walcott instead. His description of Port-of-Spain should be memorised by every Trinidadian child. His celebration of the “Smiling young archers” of Felicity, organizing a performance of the Ramayana would also be good for all children to read in school. And he was born in St. Lucia! but, he was educated at UWI. MAkes a difference, doesn’t it?

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