V.S.Naipaul by all measures the greatest living writer in the English language is the subject of a lengthy and admiring interview by Rachel Donadio in today’s New York Times Book Review.His work has included several critically acclaimed novels;he has also explored the post colonial societies in the Third World in several books of nonfiction.In the mid 70’s Naipaul published AMONG THE BELIEVERS–AN ISLAMIC JOURNEY,a travelogue through several Islamic countries which was eerily prescient about the coming conflicts with the Islamic world.In that book and the followup,
BEYOND BELIEF, Naipaul explored the hold one’s beliefs can exert on the mind and paralyze action.He correctly foresaw that it is the very strong hold of religion that would make it impossible for countries in the Middle East to advance and produce a rage against the West.Most of his predictions, one is sorry to acknowledge, have come true.His books have the ring of truth to them because he has the keen eyes of a novelist, great powers of observation and writes in an elegant prose that is unmatched.
While I admire Naipaul, I have to concede that what is lacking in his work and his current world view is the exploration of any possibility that our own leaders may be venal men, craving power and capable of committing acts that would have to be termed barbaric.
Naipaul, as a British writer, may not be privy to the inner workings of American politics and completely unaware of the deceptions and lies that led to the War on Iraq. That is indeed a serious shortcoming and one would hope that a serious writer of Naipaul’s caliber addresses this issue soon.