Sermons from On High

The popular notion of V.S. Naipaul is of a remote and forbidding figure, part Yoda, part Brahmin, author of sour essays and dense novels, whose favorite riposte is "I told you so." But this detachment is recent, an effect of various elevations: the knighthood in 1990, the Nobel Prize for Literature last year. The truth is that he has spent much of his life enmeshed in current events, making a living as a freelancer and giving permanent form to subjects such as teacup tempests in Anguilla and Grenada. It's hard these days to imagine Naipaul following the Norman-Mailer-for-mayor campaign around New...

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