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Hanif Kureishi’s new novel has hint of Naipaul’s life


The Last Word’, which hits the bookshelves in February, revolves around a plot of a writer’s secrets exposed by a biographer

HanifLondon: British Indian novelist Hanif Kureishi’s latest work of fiction has sparked claims that it has uncanny parallels with the life of Nobel Prize winning Indian-origin author VS Naipaul.

‘The Last Word’, which hits the bookshelves in February, revolves around a plot of a writer’s secrets exposed by a biographer, reminiscent of the controversy that surrounded the publication in 2008 of Patrick French’s authorized biography of Naipaul.

‘The Sunday Times’ obtained an advance copy of the book and claims that “few critics are likely to miss the apparent similarities between Kureishi’s novel and the story behind French’s explosive book”.

Kureishi, best known for ‘My Beautiful Launderette’ and ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’, dismisses the comparison.¬†“I can’t say there were any particular people in mind. It wouldn’t have been interesting to me if I had just tried to draw a picture of something that happened to somebody else,” he told ‘The Bookseller’ magazine.

When French’s book was published five years ago, critics were dumbfounded by Naipaul’s candor in allowing his biographer access to private material that was often explicit and cruel.

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, an Indian-origin British writer born and raised in Trinidad, is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and celebrated for novels such as ‘A House For Mr Biswas’.

In French’s biography, however, he emerges as a vicious husband and a violent lover and yet he still approved the final manuscript and allowed the biography to be described as “authorized”.

‘The Sunday Times’ claims that both the biography and ‘The Last Word’ feature an ageing writer of Indian extraction who provides a young biographer with startling details of his sexual past.

Both describe a long-suffering wife who dies unhappily and who leaves explicit diaries describing her misery and both include a sexually adventurous mistress who ends up being treated brutally.¬†Neither French nor Naipaul have commented publicly on Kureishi’s book.



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