Author(s): Patrick French
Writing with unique access to his memories and his private papers, and with great love for his formidable body of work, Patrick French brings us unique and often surprising insights into the most enigmatic and compelling literary figure of the last fifty years. Beginning in rich and evocative detail in Trinidad, where V. S. Naipaul was born into an East Indian family, he examines their early privations, Naipaul's first recollections, his life in the house on Luis Street, and his talent and fierce ambition at school, which won him a specially created scholarship to Oxford at the age of seventeen. French describes how, once in England, homesickness and depression struck with great force, and - with recourse to the many surviving letters between them - the ways in which Pat, later Naipaul's first wife, helped him to cope with his 'double exile'. Sticking together through the uncertainties of early life in London, theirs was a bond that endured even as Naipaul embarked on an affair that was to last for a quarter of a century. Tracing the influences of his family - particularly his writerly father - his friends and his lovers on Naipaul's unpredictable temperament and extraordinary work, Patrick French evokes a man who has only ever been a writer, whose every impulse has led to the lifelong craft he has executed with unrivalled clarity and skill.