By Raffique Shah
August 29, 2018
During my only visit to India, which I made in 1983, I found myself subconsciously looking everywhere for human faeces. Wherever I went, from the modern quarter of New Delhi where I stayed in what was probably a four-star hotel that overlooked manicured lawns and streets swept clean every day, to the slums that sat like festering sores next to the opulence of Bollywood in what was then Bombay, I kept my eyes peeled, looking for excrement.
Now, this might sound strange to the average person, especially since I was someone of Indian descent who was visiting the land of my ancestors for the first and only time. There is so much to see in that vast sub-continent—ancient historical sites (I did tour the Ajanta caves), the Taj Mahal (which I did not see) and other relics, Mahatma Gandhi’s artifacts and much, much more.
Continue reading Recognising the writing, not the writer
By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 26, 2018
Reporting the world and its past, the past as a wound, the present as loss, has been Naipaul’s dedication and business, a sort of unillusioned mourning” (Frank Kermode, London Review of Books, 4 May 1989).
It was a Saturday evening in the fall of 1988. I had just arrived at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and was having dinner with a colleague when my nephew shouted from the first-floor bedroom: “Uncle Selwyn, Mr. Naipaul on the phone.” You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone became silent.
I went upstairs to answer the phone. In my best Trinidadianese, I intoned: “Good evening, Mr. Naipaul. This is Selwyn Cudjoe.”
Continue reading A Wounded Animal – Pt 2
By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 20, 2018
“If being afflicted with asthma [as Naipaul was as a child] shaped personality and character, then, perhaps it made him [Naipaul] a wounded animal. —Savi Naipaul Akal”
On May 13, 1979, Irving Howe reviewed V. S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River in the New York Times. Although Howe praised the novel effusively, he knew little about the man or the society that produced such a talented writer.
On June 24, 1979, Michael Thelwell responded to Shiva and Vidia’s comments about Africa and asked the Times: “Had the brothers Naipaul not existed, would you have had to invent them? One suspects so. For how else would it have been possible for little brother Shiva to pontificate in your columns that the African soul is a blank slate on which anything can be written, onto which any fantasy can be transposed.…
Continue reading A Wounded Animal
By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 30, 2010
[This essay was written by Joy Clarke, a student at Wellesley College. I thought I would share it with my readers. It has been edited for purposes of length]
If literature is a signification of the emotional conscious of a people then V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas is a literary masterpiece. It traces the life of Mohun Biswas, a man of East Indian descent living in Trinidad following the end of Indian indentured servitude. Mr. Biswas’ life is one of struggle, pain and his longing to find a place to call home. The reader is taken on a journey to locate home on several levels. On the surface is Mr. Biswas’s profound desire to own a home while the subtext suggests that a search for a national homeland for a people who were removed from their natal homeland of India.
Continue reading Home Bound