A Writer’s People

Ways of Looking and Feeling

Publisher: Vintage Canada
In his first book of non-fiction since 2003, V.S. Naipaul gives us an eloquent, candid, wide-ranging narrative that delves into the sometimes inadvertent process of creative and intellectual assimilation.

Born in Trinidad of Indian descent, a resident of England for his entire adult life, and a prodigious traveller, Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has always faced the challenges of “fitting one civilisation to another.” In A Writer’s People, he discusses the writers to whom he was exposed early on, Derek Walcott, Flaubert and his own father among them; how Anthony Powell and Francis Wyndham influenced his first encounters with literary culture; what we have retained–and forgotten–of the world portrayed in Caesar’s The Gallic War and Virgil’s Aeneid; how the writings of Gandhi, Nehru and other Indian writers both reveal and conceal the authors and their nation. And he brings the same scrutiny to bear on his own life: his years in Trinidad; the gaps in his family history; the “private India” kept alive through story, ritual, religion and culture; his ever-evolving reaction to the more complicated and demanding true India he would encounter for the first time when he was thirty.

Part meditation, part remembrance, as elegant as it is revelatory, A Writer’s People allows us privileged insight–full of incident, humour and feeling–into the mind of one of our greatest writers.

“He brings to non-fiction an extraordinary capacity for making art out of lucid thought. . . . I can no longer imagine the world without Naipaul’s writing.” Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Hardcover edition.


The Worm in the Bud

Early in 1949, in Trinidad, near the end of my schooldays, word came to us in the sixth form of Queen’s Royal College that there was a serious young poet in one of the smaller islands to the north who had just published a marvellous first book of poems. We had never had news like this...
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“Naipaul offers a liberating frankness. It’s a rare and oddly exhilarating thing to encounter a master so manifestly unconcerned with being liked . . . The reputations of Austen, James and Hardy, after all, will most likely survive Naipaul’s disdain, but if even one outraged devotee of those giants is turned on to Bond or Selvon or Chaudhuri, then A Writer's People will have done a noble service.”
Ottawa Citizen

“[W]hat remains impressive . . . is Naipaul’s sense of wonder at the worlds he has discovered. . . . Few writers have traveled as far from their origins as Naipaul has, and done it so willingly and with such single-mindedness, and few have regretted that estrangement quite so much.”
The New York Times

“A brilliant work from a man who more than anybody else embodies what it means to be a writer.”
The Observer

“Naipaul writes wonderfully well. He is opinionated, tells gripping stories, loves beyond all else the specificity of details.”
The Independent

“Told in elegantly succinct prose, this deft book offers glimpses of autobiography as well as biography.”
Daily Mail

From the Hardcover edition.