Limits of Naipaulís antipathies

In any case, Girish Karnad's big question was: why was an Indian lit-fest honouring Naipaul? I have not seen any answer to it. My search on the internet has failed to turn up the citation that the festival people must have prepared and properly declaimed. Does it refer to his An Area of Darkness as an insightful study? Or, his The Middle Passage as the essential book on the Caribbean islands? Does it underscore his insights as the true fruit of his rare antipathies? I don't know, for it has not been published or quoted from, not even by Anil Dharker. We are simply told that Naipaul was eligible because he is of "Indian origin", and that he cannot be prejudiced against Islam or Muslims since he has a Muslim wife.

Now, if Naipaul has Indian origins, so do the hundreds of thousands who immigrated to Pakistan in 1947. But, for the life of me, I can't see the organisers of the lit-fest rushing to have all Pakistanis above age 65 granted a PIO status, which I saw in some paper, much to my amusement, being discussed concerning Naipaul. In case I have misjudged them, and that is a possibility I must allow, I apologise. Also, to help them in their selfless work, I suggest a name for next year's lifetime achievement award for a person of Indian origin: Intizar Hussain. He has surer claim, since it was he, and not his grandfather, who was born in UP, India.

As for the other explanation that drags in his Pakistani wife, I can only say that at one time there were many in these United States who only too quickly would claim that some of their best friends were Jews.

The writer is professor emeritus, University of Chicago

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