Close Encounters of the Literary Kind, Part V: V. S. Naipaul

In honor of Naipaul’s 82nd birthday today I have decided to reblog a post I originally wrote in 2007.

c'era una volta

“The World is what it is. Men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.” V. S. Naipaul, from A Bend in the River

I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet more than a few of the people I most admire in the world. Not everyone can meet his or her heroes. Most of mine are authors, and some of them are still living. Of all the people I have met (and this includes Pope John Paul II) I have only felt intimidated to meet just one: V. S. Naipaul.

I met Naipaul when I went to hear him speak at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. He was there to promote his book, an anthology of letters he exchanged with his late father. I had just finished reading his book, Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, and I…

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