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Love, Peace and Horror

Edmund Leach, 22 January 1981

Black and White 
by Shiva Naipaul.
Hamish Hamilton, 215 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 241 10337 1
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... of my sadistic impulses or to reduce Manson and his crew to ciphers in a table of statistics. Shiva Naipaul is very much alive to these contrasted weaknesses of the journalistic and academic approaches to the more gory forms of human tragedy, and he seems to have started out with the worthy intention of writing an assessment of the ‘messianic ...

Version of Pastoral

Christopher Ricks, 2 April 1987

The Enigma of Arrival: A Novel in Five Sections 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Viking, 318 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 81576 4
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... The Enigma of Arrival: V.S. Naipaul’s title is the one at which Apollinaire enigmatically arrived, for the painting by Giorgio de Chirico. A detail of it illuminates Naipaul’s cover and his book: making their huddled way from a classical quayside (the scene bathed both in shadow and in sun), two stoled figures have their obscured faces towards us and their backs to a wall ...

The Old Feudalist

D.A.N. Jones, 3 July 1986

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass 
by Karen Blixen.
Penguin, 351 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 008533 5
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Out of Africa 
by Karen Blixen.
Century, 288 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1016 2
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Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen 
by Judith Thurman.
Penguin, 511 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 9780140096996
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... Out of Africa. One African critic has observed: ‘There is no difference between the works of Shiva Naipaul and the literature of Karen Blixen and Elspeth Huxley. They all degrade Africans.’ Another, a distinguished Kenya novelist, ‘places Elspeth Huxley and Karen Blixen (that old feudalist!) in the tradition of “great racists like ...


Eric Korn: The Eye of the Traveller, 19 February 1987

... is a threat to social ease. If Maslow is the pilgrim, his grail a flash of green feather, Shiva Naipaul, who died in 1985, aged forty, was the quintessential traveller, defining himself anew each trip. Unfinished Journey is necessarily and sadly what it calls itself.2 Himself an Indian without any Indianness, an island boy with Continental ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... quite lively writers are not at their most sparky when working for the DNB: Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Shiva Naipaul, for instance, or Richard Ingrams on Claud Cockburn (although Ingrams has taken the trouble, it seems, to check through the Times’s files in search of that famous Cockburn headline: ‘Small Earthquake in Chile. Not Many ...


Jenny Diski: New words, 1 January 1998

... hip (a word not found in either edition, but used, according to the SOED, by both Erica Jong and Shiva Naipaul in the mid-20th century). Be very cautious about casually referring to being loved-up to the eyeballs (‘intoxicated by the drug Ecstasy’) to your young people in the hope of gaining inter-generational respect. Also avoid suggesting a night ...

Britain’s Asians

Neil Berry, 29 October 1987

... Asians in 1972, the Ugandan economy virtually collapsed. At the time of the expulsion, the late Shiva Naipaul wrote that East African Asians had been beguiled by possession of British passports into thinking they had a special relationship with Britain. No such illusion is entertained by younger Gujarati brought up in Britain. Though they feel ...


Adam Mars-Jones: Paul Theroux, 25 January 2018

Mother Land 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £20, November 2017, 978 0 241 14498 5
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... Theroux mentions not just Thomas and Heinrich Mann and James and Stanislaus Joyce but Vidia and Shiva Naipaul, ‘both of whom I’d known’. At this moment the notional Jay Justus completely disappears within Paul Theroux, who had a famous if not enduring friendship with V.S. Naipaul, and whose unforgiving book on ...

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