Following V.S. Naipaul’s passing, Nigerian writer and Caine Prize 2009 winner E.C. Osondu has paid him tribute on Facebook. Osondu made a post titled “On VS Naipaul,” in which he reveals he was invited to a party to meet the man but eventually did not attend it. Osondu is the author of the short story collection Voice of America and the novel This House Is Not for Sale.
Read his post here.
On VS Naipaul
1. I was once invited to a party in New York City by one of the richest people in the world.
2. The party was in honor of VS Naipaul who had just published a new book—The Masque of Africa.
3. The person in question was so rich that they had the kind of name you saw on buildings and credit cards but it somehow did not seem possible that they could be real people.
4. They got my name from my agent—the Wylie Agency—and they invited me along with couple of other African writers—one of whom would later publish an essay about the party in The New Yorker.
5. I did not attend the party.
6. Not because I did not want to meet Naipaul.
7. I admire his work especially his non-fiction and I think he is one of the clearest and most lucid essayists after William Hazlitt.
8. The only reason why I did not attend the party was because I had not read the new Naipaul book. I sensed that if I tried to carry on a conversation with him about the book he would see right through me. As I could tell from his books he had a knack for seeing through bullshit.
9. I later read the book and quite enjoyed the chapter on Lagos. I was puzzled that he could not find anyone to explain to him the origin of of the Eyo masquerade.
10. I first encountered Naipaul in an undergraduate course I took at the university of Calabar on Caribbean Literature. He along with Selvon, Mais, Lamming, Mittelholzer, Anthony, etc.
11. The university library had all the novels by Naipaul and many other Caribbean writers.
12. I suspect that many people who comment on Naipaul are not very familiar with his work. He once said that he was the kind of writer who people think other people are reading.
13. His one obsession was writing.That for me is kind of hard.
14. It is often better not to meet writers who one admires, in person, one might be disappointed. The writer is more often than not very different from the writing.
15.Perhaps it is just as well that I missed that party.
16. I have his books.
17. If I had to pick a favorite I’d find it difficult but I think the early novels and the books of travel would be my choice.
18. CLR James once described VS Naipaul’s tendency to provoke using a certain Caribbean word that begins with the letter “P.” I forget what the word is.
19. Before writing this note I went searching for the email from that very rich person inviting me to the Naipaul party in New York but I couldn’t find it.
20. Good night VS Naipaul.