Does Kissoon believe in free speech?
Guyana Chronicle
November 13, 2001

Dear Editor,

I am compelled to respond to Frederick Kissoon's letter captioned "Naipaul did not deserve the Nobel Prize". [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ]

It is rather ironic that Mr Kissoon would even suggest that Naipaul should have been deported from the UK for "insults" on Mr Blair. Is it not what the civilized world is all about, democracy and freedom of speech? Mr Kissoon uses these privileges to the fullest extent, judging from his many letters to the editor. Had Mr Kissoon been a naturalised citizen of the UK, would he have refrained from attacking any politician for fear of deportation? If the answer is yes, then he would not be true to himself which is exactly what Naipaul is always trying to put across in his books. You cannot be submissive, because if you do so, you lose yourself and your identity.

Mr Kissoon's theory of the Nobel committee saying "They want a Nobel Prize winner, alright we will give them one; we'll give them Naipaul" is utter rubbish. The Third World has such Nobel Laureates as Derek Walcott, Chinua Achebe, Rabinranath Tagore, among others. The Third World is not hungry for Nobel Laureates. The point is that it is not an easy pill to swallow when one of your own criticises your culture or way of life. It, however, takes a bit of maturity to acknowledge and appreciate this. Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart gives people from all over the world something to think about. The white people may have looked at the cultures and regarded some of the rituals as barbaric, but they were a way of life for those tribes. It is not easy for any reader to read about their culture being 'attacked'. In such cases, "reason over emotion" works.

It is also important for some people to look at the craftsmanship V.S. Naipaul employs when he writes, for example in Miguel Street. Naipaul is very skilled and gifted.

One of the issues V.S. Naipaul "attacks" is Hinduism. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Are all those "Hindus" in the Caribbean leading the way of life they should as Hindus or is it a religion of convenience, maybe to identify and separate themselves from non-Hindus? In `A house for Mr Biswas', the Tulsi sons attend Catholic schools, yet they are passionate Hindus. While at school, they have to obviously live a Catholic life, pray, wear the crosses etc but when they go home, they are Hindus. The question is, is Naipaul making this up, or is this the situation? How many pretentious Hindus are ready to face the fact that they use the religion as a front, and maybe to move themselves further apart from other people of other ethnicities? Is Naipaul stupid, or is he ahead of his time? Will generations to come look at his work and say, "Wow, he knew it all along"? Only time will tell, but as for now, it is Sir Vidia.

Yours faithfully,

Student (name and address supplied)