Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul emerges from his lair to be interviewed
by The New York Times
. And (sigh) asserts once more that the novel is dead:
''What I felt was, if you spend your life just writing fiction, you are going to falsify your material...And the fictional form was going to force you to do things with the material, to dramatize it in a certain way. I thought nonfiction gave one a chance to explore the world, the other world, the world that one didn't know fully...I thought if I didn't have this resource of nonfiction I would have dried up perhaps. I'd have come to the end of my material.
''If you write a novel alone you sit and you weave a little narrative. And it's O.K., but it's of no account. If you're a romantic writer, you write novels about men and women falling in love, etc., give a little narrative here and there. But again, it's of no account.''
Expectedly, some vanity is also in order:
''Actually, I think 'A Bend in the River' is much, much better than Conrad. I think the best part of Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' is the reportage part. The fictional part is excessive and feeble. And there is no reportage in my thing. I was looking and creating that world. I actually think the work I've done in that way is better than Conrad.''
And, of course, some lofty pronouncements on India:
"Naipaul called it 'a calamity' that, even with its billion people, 'there are no thinkers in India' today. India is also where he turns for a theory of history. 'The only theory is that everything is in a state of flux,' he said. This is his own 'personal idea,' he said, but one linked to a philosophical concept in Indian religion."