In awarding V. S. Naipaul the Nobel prize for literature in 2001, the Swedish Academy called him a "literary circumnavigator" and a "modern philosophe." Both tags seem spot-on, given Naipaul's gift for describing -- in both his fictional and nonfictional studies of India, Africa, and beyond -- the humor and pathos of cultural collisions.
V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at University College, Oxford, he began to write, and since then has followed no other profession. He has published more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Half a Life, A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River, and a collection of letters, Between Father and Son. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.