Bookmarks Magazine's Reviews > The World is What it Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul

The World is What it Is by Patrick French
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Feb 05, 09


Reviewers were mostly astounded that such a good writer as V. S. Naipaul could be such a horrible person. Though he has always been known as prickly, critics seemed to compete for new adjectives to describe the man who emerges in this book. Michael Dirda's list: "whiney, narcissistic, insulting, needy, callous, impolite, cruel, vengeful, indecisive, miserly, exploitative, snobbish, sadistic, self-pitying and ungrateful." Patrick French, by contrast, earned quite positive labels for his well-written, warts-and-all biography. Yet critics agreed that Naipaul, despite the portrait of him that emerges here, has one remaining virtue. As the New York Times's Dwight Garner put it, Naipaul "was brave to allow this complicated parsing of his own myth into the world."

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

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