NOBEL Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul launched the Chinese version of his novel “A Bend in the River” with a book signing in the city yesterday.
Naipaul, who was born in Trinidad and is of Indian descent, is among the star attractions at the Shanghai International Literature Week, part of the Shanghai Book Fair that opens tomorrow.
At the launch, Naipaul thanked his Shanghai readers for carefully reading his work over the years.
This is first time that the 81-year-old British writer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001, and his wife Nadira have visited China.
At yesterday’s signing, Naipaul read passages from “A Bend in the River” to the audience at Sinan Mansions.
Published in 1979, it describes the rapid changes in Africa through the experiences and observations of Salim, an Indian Muslim and shopkeeper in a small city in an unnamed African country.
On its publication, Naipaul was accused of being too critical of Africa. But on a recent trip to Uganda, many African politicians and intellectuals encouraged him to write more about Africa.
“They told him ‘You are like a prophet,’ as what my husband wrote in ‘A Bend in the River’ has since happened in Africa,” Nadira Naipaul said.
“My husband told them that he’s not a prophet. He had only observed what going to happen.”
Naipaul told the audience that the future is contained in the present, and that’s always the way he writes his books.
He is the third Nobel Prize in Literature winner to attend the city’s book fair, following French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio in 2011 and China’s Mo Yan in 2012.
Naipaul will celebrate his 82nd birthday during the event.
Wu Zheng, editor-in-chief of Shanghai Daily and translator of three of Naipaul’s books, including the Booker Prize-winning “In a Free State,” said he is an extraordinary storyteller with language like melody.
Naipaul will give a lecture “Literature and Translation: In Other Words” in the Shanghai Science Hall at 57 Nanchang Road today at 2pm and attend a reading event at the same venue on Friday at 7:30pm.