V.S. Naipaul hangs up travel hat after Africa book

Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:07pm EDT
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By Edward McAllister

NEW YORK (Reuters) - At 78, author V.S. Naipaul's traveling days are over.

The Nobel Laureate has wandered the world for over 50 years, chronicling the views and faiths of ordinary people in more than 30 works of fiction and nonfiction; but now, asthmatic and unsteady on his feet, it is time to stop.

His latest book on African beliefs and religion, "The Masque of Africa," is likely the last leg of a journey that has taken him from his native Trinidad to England and later to India, Iran, Malaysia and many other places.

"I am too old to do another book of this type. It was a great strain," Naipaul told Reuters in New York. Being loaded into an African wheelbarrow when his legs gave out on a walk in Gabon is the kind of experience he would rather not repeat.

"Africa is not a fun place, you know. A fun place is somewhere that lifts the spirits, that cossets the senses. I don't think that can be said of the Africa I traveled in."

In Britain, his latest book has received some scathing reviews for its depiction of Africans, their rituals and behavior.

The literary world has become increasingly uncomfortable with Naipaul and his politics and his cold, uncompromising views on Africa and Islam. He has been described, among many other things, as a colonialist apologist and a racist.

"The political reviews, they are about me. In a way my reputation has become that of the curmudgeon," he said.   Continued...

<p>Visibly emotional writer Sir V.S. Naipaul waits to receive his Nobel prize for literature at Stockholm's Konserthuset from Sweden's King Carl Gustaf December 10, 2001. REUTERS/Chris Helgren</p>