Shut Up, V.S. Naipaul
June 3, 2011 § 6 Comments
A day or two ago, V.S. Naipaul asserted himself to be the “greatest living writer of English prose” and said further that he could think of no female writer — living or dead — who was his literary match.
Today, novelist Diana Abu-Jaber responds:
Dear V.S. Naipaul:
You recently remarked, “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”
I was sad to read this, to realize that you’re apparently unable to think beyond schoolyard rankings and peevish comparisons, that you’re incapable of recognizing grace and power from unexpected and unfamiliar places, such as a woman’s experience.
But what worries me more is your comment that that women write with “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world,” because, “inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.”
Your use of the word “master,” is chilling…
… I would hope that someone like yourself, a Trinidadian of Indian descent, from a nation intimately familiar with colonization, would recognize the master’s old tricks of suppressing and denigrating those whose voices and perspectives might challenge the ruling order.
As the young folks say: Snap!
Abu-Jaber’s full response can and should be read here.