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Monday, 3 September 2007

"We have had no Morgan or Port Royal"

CRB contributor Jonathan Ali (whose review of the new Kwame Dawes novel appears in the August issue), poking around in some online archive, has made an entertaining discovery:

"Oh dear, this really is the year of Naipaul," remarked the CRB's editor, after yet another link to an article on Sir Vidia, whose new book, A Writer's People, is published this week.

Well, I thought we'd go one step further and make it the year of the Naipauls, plural. While doing a bit of online research I stumbled across this--a prize-winning essay by VSN's younger, now-deceased brother Shiva, author of, among other books, the fine novels Fireflies and The Chip-Chip Gatherers.

Entitled "My Trinidad", the essay was written for a contest organised by the Trinidad Guardian--for which Vidia and Shiva's father, Seepersad, had been a reporter--on the occasion of the nation's independence, when Shiva would have been around 18 years old, and about to head to Oxford University (to read Chinese, I believe).

Lest the reader infer that the Naipaul family connection to the Guardian played a part in Shiva copping first prize, the lead-in to the essay assures us that the judging was done by the Ministry of Education.

-- JA

[Ed.'s note: isn't it slightly delicious to think that Naipaul minor's Trinidad essay appeared around the same time as Naipaul major's controversial book The Middle Passage? And can you see some glimmers of similarity? "Our history has been a comparatively minor affair."]

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