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Trinidad’s First Family of Literature

The Naipauls of Nepaul Street: A Memoir of Life in Trinidad and Beyond by Savi Naipaul Akal, Leeds, England: Peepal Tree Press, 2018; pp 210, £13.99.

Houses have their own stories. Long ago, I read Lila Majumdar’s The Jorasanko House (National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1978) that narrated the tale of the Tagore household; about an extended family, headed by patriarch Debendranath Tagore (Rabindranath’s father), where numerous sons—occasionally daughters too—honed their respective talents. Haworth Parsonage, today the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Yorkshire, was where the three Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, composed their best-known works. The Bloomsbury group, named after a London area, comprised those not just a part of the Leonard and Virginia Woolf household, but an entire panoply of writers, poets and artists who haunted the area in the early 20th century. There have been similar families where talent across a wide spectrum has flourished: the Dutt family of late 19th-century Calcutta, the Huxley brothers and the Amis father-and-son duo, Kingsley and Martin.

The story of the Naipauls, a family that gave the world two novelists, is well-known, owing in the main to V S Naipaul, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, and his younger sibling, Shiva Naipaul, who died young at the age of 40 in 1985. But, there are other writers who make up part of the extended Naipaul family: novelist and short story writer Neil Bissoondnath, and poet Vahni Capildeo.

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Updated On : 20th Aug, 2018

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