Nobel Prize-Winning Novelist V.S. Naipaul Dies At 85

V.S. Naipaul
John Minihan / Getty Images

According to CNN, Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul died in his London home Saturday night at 85-years-old.

Born Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul in 1932, the Nobel laureate was raised in Trinidad and later moved to England to attend Oxford University, where he first began his long career as a writer.

Now known as a controversial novelist, Naipaul composed several cultural and comedic novels throughout his lifetime, writing his very first book, The Mystic Masseur, in 1957, and later going on to create A House for Mr. Biswas, Miguel Street, and The Loss of El Dorado.

After winning the 1971 Booker Prize, Naipaul went on to write his most critically acclaimed novel, The Enigma of Arrival, which has since been deemed a masterpiece by many literary scholars.

Decades later, Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001, which was worth $1 million at the time. Upon receiving the award, the Swedish Academy lauded his ability to merge or blend a multitude of genres into his own unique approach, claiming that Naipaul’s writing was able to force his readers “to see the presence of suppressed histories,” adding that, “In a vigilant style, (he) transforms rage into precision and allows events to speak with their own inherent irony.”

At the time, the Nobel judges also noted the following about the celebrated writer.

“He is to a very high degree a cosmopolitan writer, a fact that he himself considers to stem from his lack of roots: he is unhappy about the cultural and spiritual poverty of Trinidad, he feels alienated from India, and in England he is incapable of relating to and identifying with the traditional values of what was once a colonial power.”

V.S. Naipaul
  John Minihan / Getty Images

While Naipaul first left Trinidad to avoid ending up like his father, he suffered from a long bout of depression during his first years as a student in England.

In a collection of his letters home, which were eventually published in 2000, Naipaul detailed some of the racism he faced and the shame he experienced from living as the colonized among the world of the colonizer.

In Naipaul’s book, Half a Life, which was semi-autobiographical, he notes that he never had any one place that he considered home, describing his life as that of constant traveler.

“He went by ship,” he wrote, as shared by NPR, “And everything about the journey so frightened him…that he found himself unwilling to speak, at first out of pure worry, and then, when he discovered that silence brought him strength, out of policy. So he looked without trying to see and heard without listening.”