25 January, 2021

'For Me Writing Is The Noble Calling. It Deals With Truth.'

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul speaks in a grave, sonorous voice, with great deliberation, concentrating hard to find the perfect phrase. The following are extracts from a long interview he gave to Tarun J. Tejpal over two extended sessions.

'For Me Writing Is The Noble Calling. It Deals With Truth.'

Miguel Street was the first book you wrote, but The Mystic Masseur was the first book that was published. What happened?

My life was very hard, in 1955 the world was very hard for people like me. Can you imagine writing a book like Miguel Street? People wouldn’t even want to look at it. Today people are interested in writing from India or other former colonies. But at that time it was not considered writing. It was a very hard thing to have to write this material, to have copies made, to wonder about it being lost, and have that book with me in loose manuscript for four years, before it was published. It really upset me and it is still a great shadow over me.

So there was the inevitable period of waiting?

Yes. But you see, when you are young, two years is a long time to wait. When you are destitute as I very nearly was, two years of destitution is a very long time to wait. When you wish to make your presence in the world it is a very long time to wait. So I was made really to suffer. It all seems very easy...



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