Growing up as a child in India, I was somehow always attracted to Latin America and the Caribbean. I used to dream about one day being able to visit the new world and get myself acquainted with its cultural and literary landscape. I remember reading V.S. Naipaul while commuting to school on a packed local railway train. Rain or shine, V.S. Naipaul was with me. I had always thought of him as an Indian author or as it is now politically correct to say- South Asian author. In India, I was not aware that I was South Asian…
I used to be confused about Mr. Biswas, how can he be not-Indian?
Later on, I realized that Sir Vidiadhar (and I am Liladhar) Surajprasad Naipaul was from Trinidad and of Indian descent. Today, I was shocked to hear of his passing. While I did not severely agree with this statements on several issues, his writings had captivated me during my Mumbai cycle. I found his view disturbing and unacceptable. His book with the title-The loss of El Dorado; a history, made me think of those who settled, brought to Trinidad and Tobago, and founded the nation away from home. The unique blend of spices, religion, ethnicities all tied together in the tapestry of colonial experience in the Caribbean- such was my erroneous and naive understanding of El Dorado. I tried to read his Guerillas also but did not complete reading it.
As the librarian for the Caribbean and Latin American Collections, I realize that Latin America just like Eastern Europe and South Asia is endless and it is not defined by one language. There are the other Caribbeans and Latin Americans whose experiences are as valid as of those who linguistically dominate the continent.
RIP V.S. Naipaul! Thank you for introducing South Asia to me just like Octavio Paz introduced his India to me.