by Susan Cheever in The Daily Beast
Cranky old V.S. Naipaul is such an unpleasant bore that Paul Theroux even wrote a book about his lousy, misogynistic ways. Though the old friends-turned-enemies recently reconciled with a handshake. Now, the prickly Trinidadian has compounded his problems with women by telling a writer for the London Evening Standard what can be no surprise to anyone—that he thinks women’s literary work is not as good as men’s in general and his in particular. Women are “unequal” to him, and tend to write “tosh.” He particularly singled out Jane Austen because of her sentimentality.
There is already outrage about Naipaul’s opinion, adjective-wielding critics defending the honor of Jane Austen and the rest of us. Why do we care so much? Aren’t we confusing the man and his work?
Knighthood or no knighthood, literary genius or no literary genius, V.S. Naipaul has no authority when it comes to women’s writing. I don’t care what he thinks about UFOs either, or animal husbandry or plumbing. The guy is a writer; I care about his writing. The man can seethe and fulminate about other things, but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I won’t listen seriously any more than I would ask him to redo the bathroom.
Read Susan Cheever's full piece here.