Trinidad-born Nobel laureate whose precise and lyrical writing in such novels as
A Bend in the River and A House for Mr. Biswas
and brittle, misanthropic personality made him one of the world’s most admired and contentious writers,
died Saturday at his London home, his family said.
He was 85.
He was critical of colonialism, but set himself apart from any social movements.
He saw himself as a realist, cured of illusions, his outlook defined by the famous opening words of
A Bend in the River that became the title of a biography by Patrick French: “The world is what it is.”
He called India a “slave society,”
quipped that Africa has no future
and explained that Indian women wear a coloured dot on their foreheads
to say “my head is empty.”
He laughed off the 1989 fatwa by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie
as “an extreme form of literary criticism.”