Naipaul's Nobel Prize
Stabroek News
October 25, 2001

Dear Editor,

Permit me to comment on the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to V.S. Naipaul.

I have seen the congratulatory letters written in your paper. I find myself having mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, this is the third Nobel prize awarded to a Caribbean national and we should be proud. In fact this is the second in five years or less (the preceding going to Derek Walcott, the second for a St.Lucian.)

On the other hand, I listened with a feeling of growing irritation as interviewed by the BBC he gave thanks to his ancestral homeland and to his adopted homeland, England and not a word for his mother country, Trinidad.

In the book in which he described his visit to the Roraima territory, he describes the situation from a foreigner's perspective without understanding a word of Portuguese and most likely the culture also. In the same book he describes some of the British Guianese he saw as taking themselves seriously enough to be driving around in cars or words to that effect. The genesis of his legendary disaffection with the Caribbean is easy to understand. He sees the world in caricature.

One of the foremost writers of the Caribbean referred to him as "a disgruntled man roaming the world in search of misery".

Well, his countrymen have claimed him and embraced him. And so, the descendants of Naipaul's 'mimic men' who managed to leave a cultural legacy by forging a distinct Trinidadian identity, giving the world and especially the Caribbean diaspora some of the most appealing and enduring art forms including their music, and no thanks to Naipaul, acclaim the success of the one who gave up on them.

Someone needs to write about this irony in really dazzling prose.

Yours faithfully,

F. Collins