books

VS Naipaul is a jerkwad

Cover of "The Mimic Men"
Cover of The Mimic Men

I just cranked out an eleven-pager on an embodied reading of Mimic Men (Naipaul, 1967), while downing a 1 L bottle of Bolthouse Farms’ Vanilla Latte, so excuse the crazy.

But VS Naipaul is a jerkwad. I didn’t like his condescension when I read some of his travel literature (which basically goes “India is dirty and smelly. Eww!” x 200 pages), but this book is just … wow. As I said to one of my friends, I kept thinking it was ironic, but then my prof was like “Nope. That’s just him.” This is a little like my reaction to Mansfield Park, where I keep waiting for Austen to wink slyly, and she doesn’t, and I wind up annoyed at everyone.

But I also learned, from the new authorized bio by Patrick French, that Naipaul physically and sexually abused his wife and mistress, frequented prostitutes, proposed to another woman while his wife was dying of cancer, and regularly used (uses?) racist language.

Your Nobel Prize winner, ladies and gentlemen!

I know it’s dangerous to go down the slippery slope of moral biography, but really? Really now? I didn’t like this dude before, and I like him even less now.

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