The first major biography of V.S. Naipaul, the controversial and enigmatic Nobel laureate: a stunning writer whose only stated ambition was greatness, in pursuit of which goal nothing else was sacred.
Beginning in rich detail in Trinidad, where Naipaul was born into an Indian family, Patrick French skillfully examines Naipaul's life within a displaced community and his fierce ambition at school. He describes how, on scholarship at Oxford, homesickness and depression struck with great force; the ways in which Naipaul's first wife helped him to cope and their otherwise fraught marriage; and Naipaul's struggles throughout subsequent uncertainties in England, including his twenty-five-year-long affair.
Naipaul's extraordinary gift--producing, uniquely, masterpieces of both fiction and nonfiction--is most of all born of a forceful, visionary impulse, whose roots French traces with a sympathetic brilliance and devastating insight.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This is the first major biography of V.S. Naipaul, Nobel Prize winner and one of the most compelling literary figures of the last fifty years. With great feeling for his formidable body of work, and exclusive access to his private papers and personal recollections, Patrick French has produced a lucid and astonishing account of this enigmatic genius: one which looks sensitively and unflinchingly at his relationships, his development as a writer and as a man, his outspokenness, his peerless creativity, and his extraordinary and enduring position both outside and at the very centre of literary culture. 'Its clarity, honesty, even-handedness, its panoramic range and close emotional focus, above all its virtually unprecedented access to the dark secret life at its heart, make it one of the most gripping biographies I've ever read' Hilary Spurling, Observer 'A brilliant biography: exemplary in its thoroughness, sympathetic but tough in tone . . . Reading it I was enthralled - and frequently amused (how incredibly funny Naipaul can be!)' Spectator 'A masterly performance . . . If a better biography is published this year, I shall be astonished' Allan Massie, Literary Review 'Remarkable. This biography will change the way we read Naipaul's books' Craig Brown, Book of the Week, Mail on Sunday
Tibet has long fascinated the West, but what really lies beyond our romantic image of a mystical mountain kingdom of peace and spirituality? Patrick French set out to discover the truth, and his extraordinary account has been widely acclaimed.Travelling through the country, French meets exiled monks, nomads and a nun secretly fighting Chinese rule, but also young Tibetans with a more pragmatic attitude to their situation. Interweaving these encounters with little-known stories of war and turmoil from Tibet's past, he reveals a more nuanced, fascinating and surprising picture of this complex place than any other book has done.
At midnight on 14 August 1947, Britain's 350-year-old Indian Empire was broken into three pieces. The greatest mass migration in history began, as Muslims fled north and Hindus fled south, and Britain's role as an imperial power came to an end. Patrick French's vivid and surprising account of the chaotic final years of colonial rule in India has been acclaimed as the definitive book on this subject. Journeying across India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, he brings to life a cast of characters including spies, idealists, freedom fighters and politicians from Churchill to Gandhi.
Soldier, explorer, mystic, guru and spy, Francis Younghusband began his colonial career as a military adventurer and became a radical visionary who preached free love to his followers. Patrick French's award-winning biography traces the unpredictable life of the maverick with the 'damned rum name', who singlehandedly led the 1904 British invasion of Tibet, discovered a new route from China to India, organized the first expeditions up Mount Everest and attempted to start a new world religion. Following in Younghusband's footsteps, from Calcutta to the snows of the Himalayas, French pieces together the story of a man who embodies all the romance and folly of Britain's lost imperial dream.