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Nobel Prize-winning author VS Naipaul dead

By AAP Newswire

British author VS Naipaul, who was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature, has died aged 85.

Naipaul, whose many works revolved around the themes of colonialism and exile, died peacefully at his home in London, his wife, Nadira Naipaul, said in a statement on Saturday.

"He was a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour," she said.

Of Indian origin, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, who was born in Trinidad in 1932, also won the Booker Prize in 1971 for his novel In a Free State and was knighted by the Queen in 1990.

His best-known works include the novels A House for Mr Biswas (1961) and A Bend in the River (1979).

Hailed as a masterpiece, A House for Mr Biswas told the tragicomic story of the search for independence and identity of a Brahmin Indian living in Trinidad. Much of it is inspired by the experiences of the author's father.

Much of Naipaul's writing stemmed from what he called a lack of roots - his unhappiness with the cultural and spiritual poverty of Trinidad, his alienation from India, and his inability in England to relate to "the traditional values of what was once a colonial power".

The damaging effects of colonialism were a major concern of his work but in his acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel The Enigma of Arrival (1987) Naipaul told of a writer of Caribbean origin, who finds joys of homecoming in England after wandering years - it is only then that the world stops being a colony for him.

He also authored several non-fiction works including Among the Believers, published in 1981 and based on his own travels, which warned of the resentment embodied in and the threat posed by radical Islamic fundamentalism.

Naipaul won a scholarship to Oxford University and on graduation embarked on a career as a freelance writer. In the mid-1950s Naipaul was a broadcaster for the BBC's Caribbean Voices and a regular fiction reviewer for the New Statesman.

He later received a grant from the Trinidad government to travel in the Caribbean and travelled widely in the 1960s and early 1970s in India, South America, Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and the US.