From The Guardian:
When, in October 2001, the telephone rang in VS Naipaul’s remote Wiltshire home, it was his wife who picked up, as usual. The writer himself never answers. Horace Engdahl, head of the Swedish Academy, was on the line with some long-awaited information. The Nobel prize committee had awarded its literature prize to ‘Mr Naipaul’. Could he, please, communicate this honour to the great writer? But no, the 98th Nobel literature laureate could not come to the phone. He was busy, writing, and did not wish to be disturbed.
Everyone agrees that VS Naipaul is fully alive to his own importance. A mirror to his work, his life is emblematic of an extraordinary half century, the postwar years. Let it not be said that he does not know this. ‘My story is a kind of cultural history,’ he remarks, in part of an overture to a long conversation. Nevertheless, he will not be reading Patrick French’s forthcoming authorised biography, The World Is What it Is. ‘I asked Patrick to do it, but I haven’t read a word,’ he emphasises, brushing past rumours of discord over the manuscript. ‘I don’t intend to read the book.’