Literary Occasions

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A rich collection of essays on reading, writing, and identity from our finest writer in English, V. S. Naipaul. Literary Occasions charts more than half a century of personal enquiry into the mysteries of written expression, and of fiction in particular.

Literary Occasions brings together some true gems of literary criticism and personal reflection. Reflecting on the full scope of his career, V. S. Naipaul takes us through his beginnings as a writer: his boyhood experiences of reading books and his first efforts at writing them; the early glimmers and evolution of ideas about the proper relations of particular literary forms to particular cultures and identities; and his father’s influence, revealed in an intriguing preface to the only book he ever published.

These moving and thoughtful pieces are accompanied by Naipaul’s profound and severe discussions of other authors, including his signal essay on Conrad, and the classic “Indian Autobiographies.” The collection is completed by “Two Worlds,” the magnificent Nobel Address, in which Naipaul considers the indivisibility of the literary and the personal.

Sustained by extraordinary powers of expression and thought, Literary Occasions is both a subtle recollection of Naipaul’s past, and the only available organized statement of his literary ideas. A valuable companion to last year’s The Writer and the World, this is an essential volume from a man who has devoted his life to the written word.

From the Hardcover edition.


"Each of the 11 pieces here offers delicious, spicy bits of Naipaul’s talent … Literary Occasions is a rare book capable of entertaining and inspiring at the same time."
New York Times New Service (printed in The Hamilton Spectator)

“Naipaul’s recollections are a salutary reminder of what [post-colonial literature] practitioners, of whom Naipaul is foremost, had to overcome.”
The Gazette

Literary Occasions is a rich…commentary on th[e] bridging of the parochial and the global, accomplished through prose that has for decades ranked among the best in English.”
The Georgia Straight

Praise for V. S. Naipaul:
“The world’s writer, a master of language and perception.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Naipaul is a master of English prose.”
—J. M. Coetzee

From the Hardcover edition.