Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul brings his signature gifts of observation, his ferocious impatience with received truths, and his masterfully condensed prose to these eleven essays on reading, writing, and identity—which have been brought together for the first time.
Here the subject is Naipaul’s literary evolution: the books that delighted him as a child; the books he wrote as a young man; the omnipresent predicament of trying to master an essentially metropolitan, imperial art form as an Asian colonial from a New World plantation island. He assesses Joseph Conrad, the writer most frequently cited as his forebear, and, in his celebrated Nobel Lecture, “Two Worlds,” traces the full arc of his own career. Literary Occasions is an indispensable addition to the Naipaul oeuvre, penetrating, elegant, and affecting.
“He brings to [nonfiction] an extraordinary capacity for making art out of lucid thought. . . . I can no longer imagine the world without Naipaul’s writing.” —Vivian Gornick, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“[Naipaul] has a genius for noticing, a genius for freezing the instant when meaning is born from the accidents of the everyday. . . . Each sentence pounces on its meaning, neat as a cat.” —The New York Review of Books
“It is altogether tonic to have a writer such as V. S. Naipaul in our midst.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Fascinating. . . . Poignant. . . . He shows an almost scientific precocity at being an observer and historian of his family’s life. . . . A lean little guidebook to the making of a Nobel laureate.” —The Miami Herald
“[Literary Occasions] shed[s] light on Naipaul’s intellectual evolution and on the source of his social insight, his humor, and his gentle melancholy.” —The Boston Globe
“Splendid. . . . Affecting. . . . The perfect complement to Naipaul’s volume of travel and political essays, The Writer and the World.” —The Oregonian
“[A] gift to the reading and writing public. . . . Literary Occasions is . . . an ideal place to make one’s first acquaintance with Naipaul’s literary universe.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Deeply affecting. . . . Personally revealing. . . . Thoughtful clarity . . . characterizes all his prose.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Fascinating. . . . Naipaul truly is a writer for the world.” —The Tennessean
“Nuanced, personal. . . . Naipaul’s prose is a perfect combination of lucidity, elegance and gloom.” —The Telegraph (Calcutta, India)
“Naipaul’s essays play an important part in understanding this remarkable writer. . . . Those already familiar with his work will find their understanding greatly enhanced by these essays.” —The Sunday Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
“Superbly written. . . . [Naipaul is] a gifted and articulate writer whose prose, comments, and analysis force readers to closely inspect their own ideas.” —Nashville City Paper