Sir Vidia Naipaul turns 75 on August 17, but in his homeland of Trinidad the celebrations have already begun. The St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies has dedicated this year to honouring Naipaul and his work.
Naipaul was the guest of honour at UWI in April during a week-long tribute to his life and work, during which the Nobel laureate gave a reading from his work. Other events scheduled in his honour included a lecture series that ran from March to June, with contributions from professors Gordon Rohlehr and Kenneth Ramchand and Trinidadian novelist Lawrence Scott. A symposium on Naipaul and his work, provocatively titled “VS Naipaul: Created in the West Indies”, was also held on the campus in April.
Born in Chaguanas, Central Trinidad, Naipaul was educated at Queen’s Royal College, Trinidad, and University College, Oxford. He lives in England.
In 1989 he received Trinidad and Tobago’s highest national award, the Trinity Cross. He was knighted in 1990 and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. His other awards include the Booker Prize (1971), the Jerusalem Prize (1983) and the David Cohen British Literature Prize given by the Arts Council of England (1993).
Naipaul is the first of three Caribbean Nobel laureates to be honoured by UWI. The university also plans to celebrate economist Sir Arthur Lewis and poet and playwright Derek Walcott (himself a UWI alumnus) in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
For more information on UWI’s Nobel laureate celebrations, visit: www.sta.uwi.edu/nlc