Remember when V.S. Naipaul used the September 11 tragedy to go on another one of his rants against Islam? Today, he won the Nobel literature prize. When I read the news, I immediately wondered whether the attacks had anything to do with the choice, considering some of the things he’s said about Islam.

I guess I was right. The Yahoo! article states:

Academy head Horace Engdahl conceded this year’s choice may might be seen as political in the wake of terror attacks in the United States and the American retaliation. “The present situation perhaps will make room for a more muted reaction,” he said. “I don’t think we will have violent protests from the Islamic countries and if they take the care to read his travel books from that part of the world they will realize that his view of Islam is a lot more nuanced. What he’s really attacking in Islam is a particular trait that it has in common with all cultures that conquerors bring along, that it tends to obliterate the preceding culture,” he said.

You know what? It’s hard for me to see nuance in something like this:

“There probably has been no imperialism like that of Islam and the Arabs.”

A lot of his work is about his travels in Muslim, but non-Arab countries. Or how about this gem:

“Islam has caused more damage to the national dignity and honour of non-Arab Moslems than any other calamity that may have affected them.”

Or this one:

“Hatred of non-Moslems is the pivot of Islamic existence”.

Excuse me while I go try and hate my family, friends, and neighbors, since that is the pivot around which my existence revolves.

I admit I’m having a very hard time dealing with the fact that myopic visions of Islam are rewarded with such a distinguished literary prize. But I’ll get over it.

Some links:
Three of Naipaul’s better-known books: Beyond Belief, A House for Mister Biswas, and Among the Believers.

You can read Edward Said on VS Naipaul’s Beyond Belief at this site.

Check out also Paul Theroux’s book on Naipaul: Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents.


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