Supriya Nair in Mint:
Karnad, whose session was announced as a masterclass where the playwright would talk about “his life in theatre,” spoke instead about Naipaul’s mischaracterisations of Indian history and the politics of giving him an award in spite of his widely-quoted remarks about Indian Muslims, especially in light of Mumbai and India’s recent history.
Edited excerpts from Karnad’s remarks follow:
Why is Naipaul Being Honoured?
At the Mumbai Literature Festival this year, Landmark and Literature Alive have jointly given the Lifetime’s Achievement Award to Sir Vidia Naipaul. The award ceremony, held on the 31st of October at the National Centre of the Performing Arts, coyly failed to mention that Naipaul was not an Indian and has never claimed to be one. But at no point was the question raised, and the words Shashi Deshpande, the novelist, had used to describe the Neemrana Festival conducted by the ICCR in 2002 perfectly fitted the event: ‘It was a celebration of a Nobel Laureate… whom India, hopefully, even sycophantically, considered an Indian.’
Apart from his novels, only two of which take place in India and are abysmal, Naipaul has written three books on India and the books are brilliantly written—he is certainly among the great English writers of our generation. They have been hailed as a continued exploration of India’s journey into modernity, but what strikes one from the very first book, A Wounded Civilization, is their rabid antipathy to the Indian Muslim. The ‘wound’ in the title is the one inflicted on India by Babur’s invasion. Since then Naipaul has never missed a chance to accuse them of having savaged India for five centuries, brought, among other dreadful things, poverty into it, and destroyed glorious Indian culture. More:
Literary critic Deepanjana Pal was there at the Literature Live session and weighs in with…And Girish Karnad went Boom!