James Atlas in the New York Times Book Review:
Approaching the half-century mark of a distinguished literary career, V. S. Naipaul has entered his ”late phase” — as scholars and biographers euphemistically refer to the productions of old age. Now 72, he has written (or published; who knows what went into the circular file?) 14 works of fiction and 14 works of nonfiction: a tidy congruence. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, he is, after a lifetime of heroic labor, home free. What more can we ask of him? T. S. Eliot, after he won the Nobel, glumly described it as ”a ticket to one’s own funeral.”
Naipaul would seem to concur. Last month he made the public announcement at a speech in New Delhi that his new novel, ”Magic Seeds,” may be his last. ”I am really quite old now,” he said, turning his biblical span into premature senescence. ”Books require an immense amount of energy. It is not just pages. It is ideas, observations, many narrative lines.” And because V. S. Naipaul will no longer write novels, the genre must die. ”I have no faith in the survival of the novel. It is almost over. The world has changed and people do not have the time to give that a book requires.” It is almost over for him.