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Shiva Naipaul (Shivadhar Srinivasa Naipaul) Biography

(1945–85), (Shivadhar Srinivasa Naipaul), Fireflies, The Chip-Chip Gathers, A Hot Country

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France

Trinidadian novelist, born in Port of Spain, educated at Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, and at University College, Oxford. His first two novels, Fireflies (1970) and The Chip-Chip Gathers (1973), focus on wealthy Indian families, particularly the women, and the inexorable disintegration of their Hindu culture in modern Trinidad. In his autobiographical essay ‘Beyond the Dragon's Mouth’, Naipaul describes this process at work in his own family: ‘The clannish, hierarchical Hindu past known to the older members of my family (a gap of nearly twenty-five years separates my eldest and youngest sisters) had all but dissolved by my day, been split up into its various, often warring, fragments, each of which rigorously pursued its own interests.’ While these early novels balance comedy and elegiac feeling, A Hot Country (1983) is much bleaker in its despairing vision of post-colonial politics, as suggested by its US title, Death in a Hot Country (1984). His other books include: North of South (1978), an acerbic travelogue about Africa; Black and White (1980), reportage on the mass suicides of religious fanatics in Jonestown, Guyana; and Beyond the Dragon's Mouth (1984), which contains short stories and autobiographical pieces. He was the younger brother of V. S. Naipaul, and his last book, An Unfinished Journey (1986), which contains more autobiography and reportage, includes ‘My Brother and I’, as well as one of his most devastating diatribes, ‘The Illusion of the Third World’.

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