Naipaul won the Booker Prize with In A Free State
Stabroek News
October 24, 2001

Dear Editor,

I wish to make a correction to my article "VS Naipaul: the enigma of his arrival" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] published in Arts on Sunday, SS Oct. 2001 - I mentioned the controversies caused by Naipaul's critical outspokenness, his alienation from the Caribbean and the misconception that he glorified English culture. He is an independent, creative individual who, though often humorous, has been very critical of his native Trinidad, India, England and Africa alike.

In mentioning two novels on Africa, which won him great acclaim, I inadvertently transposed the titles, causing the wrong one to be named as the Booker Prize Winner. In A Free State won that major award in 1971, and not A Bend in the River, (which made the shortlist in 1979) as was stated.

Naipaul's In A Free State won the Booker judges' verdict over an impressive list of shortlisted competitors including celebrated writer Doris Lessing (Briefing for a Descent-into Hell) and Mordecai Richler (St Urbain's Horseman). Richler is a foremost Canadian novelist who only recently won the Commonwealth Regional Prize for Braney's Version (1998). Thomas Kilroy, Derek Robinson and Elizabeth Taylor completed the shortlist.

The 1971 Judges Panel was also impressive with such outstanding writers as Saul Bellow, John Fowles and John Gross (Chairman) along with Phillip Toynbee and Lady Antonia Fraser.

In 1979, Penelope Fitzgerald's Offshore was the Booker winner ahead of Naipaul, who was again a finalist with A Bend in the River. Thomas Keneally, Julian Rathbone and Fay Weldon completed the shortlist and the Judges were Lord Asa Briggs (Chairman), Benny Green, Michael Ratcliffe, Hilary Spurling and acclaimed author Paul Theroux.

I apologize for the mix up.

Yours faithfully,

Al Creighton