V.S. Naipaul is no doubt a great writer, who also has a reputation for being an arrogant prick with a gigantic ego. Like Paul Theroux, who once called Naipaul a mentor and a friend, I knew very little of the man. Some choice quotes:
Now French’s biography amply demonstrates everything I said and more. It is not a pretty story; it will probably destroy Naipaul’s reputation for ever, this chronicle of his pretensions, his whoremongering, his treatment of a sad, sick wife and disposable mistress, his evasions, his meanness, his cruelty amounting to sadism, his race baiting. Then there is the “gruesome sex”, the blame shifting, the paranoia, the disloyalty, the nasty cracks and the whining, the ingratitude, the mood swings, the unloving and destructive personality.Read the whole article. The level of cruelty Naipaul delights in will simply make you vomit. What a horrible, horrible man. Nevertheless, I'll still continue to read him.
...Normally an author’s biography offers a reading list of influences and favourite books or writers. What do we have here? Naipaul’s father Seepersad is his favourite writer, some of Conrad passes muster, Flaubert is a one-book wonder; and all the rest he dismisses or disparages – James Joyce, Dickens, E M Forster, Maugham, Keynes, Jane Austen, Anthony Powell, Derek Walcott and many others, including me. I am “a rather common fellow”, who writes “tourist books for the lower classes”. I am also a bore and as a pedagogue “in Africa, teaching the negroes”, I clearly did the unpardonable.