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Seepersad Naipaul, Amazing Scenes: Selected Journalism 1928-1953

Seepersad Naipaul's selected journalism gives an unrivalled portrayal of Indian Trinidad in the late colonial era and also allows us to appreciate to the astonishing literary inventiveness of an entirely self-taught man.


Seepersad Naipaul, Aaron Eastley, Brinsley Samaroo, Kenneth Ramchand
Creative Non-Fiction, Cultural Studies
Trinidad and Tobago
Date published
13 Apr 2023

Readers of V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas will recognise how extensively the son borrowed from his father’s actual journalism to create both the character and newspaper career of Mohan Biswas. But it is not as a source book for V.S. Naipaul’s novel that this selection of Seepersad Naipaul’s reports and articles excels. In the first place, this is a collection of writing that through its vigour and inventiveness is in the first place extremely readable. It makes the case that the very best journalism has every right to be considered as seriously as literary fiction; in a country which has prized the newspaper columnist who combines insight with high style, Seepersad Naipaul claims the status of a pioneer. As a body of writing that extends over 25 years, however mundane the story to be covered, it reveals the persona of its author as a signal, developing and very recognisable voice as an observer of colonial Trinidad. Employed in the first place to report on the lives of “East Indians”, then an almost wholly unknown quantity to the vast majority of urban Trinidadians, Seepersad Naipaul’s columns and stories give an unrivalled picture of the various (not to say fissiparous) strands of Indian lives over the period in which they began to emerge into the wider economy, society and politics of the nation. And Seepersad Naipaul’s interests are nothing if not ecumenical. He writes with sympathetic interest, for instance, about the “Shouters”, the Spiritual Baptists just emerging from a long period of being banned. But it will probably be Seepersad Naipaul’s eye for the curious, not to say bizarre, in columns that will still entertain readers many decades after they were written. Meet Trinidad’s hermit Robinson Crusoe, and Trinidad’s ‘worst’ man.

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Kenneth Ramchand

Emeritus Professor Kenneth Ramchand taught for many years at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, at Trinidad & Tobago University and at Colgate University, New York. He was for some years an independent Senator in the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1996, Ramchand was awarded a Trinidad and Tobago Chaconia Medal Gold for his work in Literature, Education and Culture. In 2012, the National Library of Trinidad and Tobago honoured him with a NALIS Lifetime Literary Achievement Award. At the 2014 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Ramchand was honoured alongside Professor Gordon Rohlehr with the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, which recognises the lifetime achievement of editors, publishers, critics and broadcasters.

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Brinsley Samaroo

Brinsley Samaroo was former Head of the History department at UWI, St. Augustine. He has written extensively on the history of Trinidad and Tobago with a focus on working class movements, Indo-Caribbean history and political and institutional development. His most recent work is The Price of Conscience: Howard Noel Nankivell and Labour Unrest in the British Caribbean.

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Aaron Eastley

Aaron Eastley is an associate professor of English/ Humanities at Brigham Young University, Utah.

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Seepersad Naipaul

Born in rural Trinidad in 1906 to an impoverished Brahmin family, Seepersad Naipaul married into the powerful Capildeo family. He found his realisation through his gift for language, working as a journalist for many years. He trained as a social worker during the wartime years. In 1943 He published a pioneering collection of short stories, Gurudeva and Other Indian Tales. He was the father of six children, including the writers V.S., Shiva and Savi Naipaul Akal. He died in 1953. A House for Mr Biswas is both and is not the story of his life.

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