“I’ve wasted a bit of myself”

by Nicholas Laughlin on October 24, 2010

V.S. Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul in his younger days


I’m unusual in that I have had a long career. Most people from limited backgrounds write one book. I’m a prose writer. A prose book contains many thousands of sentiments, observations, thoughts — it is a lot of work. The pattern for most people is to do a little thing about their own lives. My career has been other. I found more and more to write. If I had the strength, I probably would do more; there is always more to write about. I just don’t have the energy, the physical capacity. You know, one can spend so many days now being physically wretched. I’m aging badly. I’ve given so much to this career for so long. I spend so much time trying to feel well. One becomes worn out by living, by writing, by thinking.

Have you got enough now?




Do you think I’ve wasted a bit of myself talking to you?


Not, of course, how I’d put it.


You’ll cherish it?


You don’t like interviews.


I don’t like them because I think that thoughts are so precious you can talk them away. You can lose them.

V.S. Naipaul, interviewed by Jonathan Rosen and Tarun Tejpal for the Fall 1998 Paris Review.

It’s often said the Paris Review invented the modern literary interview; the magazine’s famous interview archive, stretching from 1953 to the present, is now fully available online. Other Caribbean writers included: Jean Rhys, 1979; Guillermo Cabrera Infante, 1983; and Derek Walcott, 1986.

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