London.- The British writer V.S. Naipaul, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for literature, died at the age of 85, the family said in a statement yesterday.
Naipaul, whose works revolved around colonialism and exile, died peacefully in his London home, confirmed his wife, Lady Naipaul.
"He was a giant in everything he achieved and died surrounded by those who loved him, after a life full of creativity and wonderful results," said his wife.
Naipaul, of Indian descent and born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago in 1932, also won the Booker Prize in 1971 for his novel In a Free State and was named knight by Queen Elizabeth in 1990. At age 18 he obtained a scholarship that allowed him to study at Oxford, where he met his first wife, Patricia Hale, with whom he was married until his death in 1996.
Naipaul started writing novels after working for a few years as a journalist for the British media. The first works were in Trinidad and Tobago, but then they explored Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In A Zone of Darkness (1964) he analyzed the conditions of life in India, the land of his ancestors. In Among The Believers: An Islamic Journey (Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, 1981) was critical of Islam and in the novel A Bend in the River (1979) described the chaos and tyranny that the African states experienced after their independence.
One of his most famous works is the novel A House for Mr. Biswas, from 1961, which tells the tragicomic story of the search for independence and identity of an Indian who lives in Trinidad.
Much of his writing is based on what he termed the lack of roots: his discontent with Trinidad's cultural and spiritual poverty, his distancing from India and his incapacity in England to connect with the "traditional values of an old colonial power ". His critics questioned seeing the world from a colonial perspective.
He has also outraged many by denying the romantic idealization of developing countries and accusing them of the poverty and misery they live in. Naipaul decided not to return to the tropical island where he was born. For him, Trinidad was synonymous with underdevelopment and lack of perspectives.
It also provoked the anger of Muslims as the writer Salman Rushdie when he assured that in countries like India, which are not Arabs, Islam caused more damage than colonialism.
The first sentence of Un bend in the river, "the world is like that", also serves as the title for a genuine biography written on him by the British Patrick French. In it appear chapters of Naipaul's life that do not say much in their favor. Like for example the way he treated Hale, who according to the text left aside, humiliated and betrayed for decades. Hale died of cancer in 1996 and Naipaul assumed that part of the fault was his.
In 2001, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he assured that it was "a great recognition for the United Kingdom, my home and for India, the country of my ancestors". Not a word from Trinidad and Tobago. In his latest works, such as the novels Half Life (2001) or Magic Seeds (2004), Naipaul addressed the issue of identity and eradication.