V.S. Naipaul’s Room, from the Writers’ Rooms series, by Eamonn McCabe
I’ve been posting so much Naipauliana here of late, dear readers, I may as well continue. First, Pico Ayer reviews The World Is What It Is in Time:
The central question the book raises is how much inhumanity is justified in the cultivation of a talent--especially in an age when (as Naipaul is shrewd enough to realize) writers are judged on the basis of their personality more than their art. Even as he turned himself into a bespoke English gentleman, after all, while Pat became the obedient and self-denying Indian wife of legend, Naipaul's strength lay not just in the clarity of his observations but in the passion--the grief and terror and rage--that trembled just beneath them.
Next, an essay by Vivian Gornick comparing Naipaul and James Baldwin, in the latest Boston Review (thanks to Antilles reader Andre Bagoo for sending me the link):
Two men of color: one black, one brown; one American, one Trinidad-Indian; both in a bottomless rage over having been born outsiders into a world dominated by whites; both released into a genius for writing by the force and influence of that very rage. If ever there were a pair of writers who, with roughly equivalent results, made the same virtue out of the same enduring necessity, surely it was V.S. Naipaul and James Baldwin. But it is the difference, not the sameness, between them that is compelling.
Finally, a long book review-cum-essay (PDF link) by William H. Pritchard in the Autumn 2008 Hudson Review (thanks to Matthew Hunte for the link):
About a particularly stressful year in Naipaul’s life, his biographer remarks that throughout it he had “remained focussed on two things: himself and his writing.” Looking at his career in its entirety, it must be said that remaining focussed on self and writing was not at all a condition of one particular year, rather a lifetime habit.
(The photo above, of Naipaul’s desk in his house in Salisbury, is from a series of images by Eamonn McCabe of “Writers’ Rooms”. The BBC posts a nice slideshow summarising the series, with audio commentary by the photographer.)