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No woman writer will ever be my equal, says author VS Naipaul

“I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me,” said the Booker Prize winner.

British author V.S. Naipaul at his home near Salisbury, Wiltshire.
British author V.S. Naipaul at his home near Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Image: Chris Ison/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE AUTHOR VS Naipaul has said women writers will never be his equal: “Women writers are different, they are quite different. I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”

Speaking at the Hay literary festival, Naipaul said this was due to their “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world. And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.”

Naipaul reserved particular scorn for Jane Austen – saying that he “couldn’t possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world”, reports the Telegraph.

The 78-year-old, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001, also lambasted the literary work of his former publisher: “My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh,” adding, “I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”

The Writers Guild of Great Britain has dismissed Naipaul’s comments, saying that it would not “waste its breath on them”, the Guardian reports. Similarly, literary critic Helen Brown described his comments as “arrogant, attention-seeking” and advised Naipaul to heed the words of the – female – writer George Eliot, who wrote:

Blessed is the man, who  having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.

Read: Nigella Lawson says her bestseller on baking is an ‘important feminist tract’ >

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