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Monday, June 2, 2008 1:57 pm
D. Walcott vs. V.S. Naipaul
Posted by: Keir Graff

Now this is my kind of literary feud. There’s been bad blood between Derek Walcott (The Prodigal, 2004) and V. S. Naipaul (A Writer’s People, 2008) for years, but Walcott just took it to a whole new level, debuting a poem, “The Mongoose,” onstage at the Calabash Literary Festival in Kingston, Jamaica. From the Guardian (“Rhyme and punishment for Naipaul,” by Daniel Trilling):

Telling the audience, ‘I think you’ll recognise Mr Naipaul … I’m going to be nasty’, Walcott launched into The Mongoose amid a hubbub of surprised gasps and nervous laughter from the crowd.

A sample:

I have been bitten, I must avoid infection
Or else I’ll be as dead as Naipaul’s fiction
Read his last novels, you’ll see just
what I mean
A lethargy, approaching the obscene
The model is more ho-hum than Dickens

This year isn’t going too well for Naipaul. First Patrick French’s biography, The World Is What It Is, now this–and it’s only June. But perhaps Naipaul will have the last laugh:

But Walcott’s attack is unlikely to be ignored. French says that Naipaul will most likely wait until he has devised a suitably literary way of striking back. ‘Knowing Naipaul, he’ll say nothing and then at some point he will lash out. I remember him saying to me once: “I settle all my accounts, I settle all my accounts.” He gets even in his own way, even if he has to bide his time.’

Update: Here’s audio! (It’s at the very end.)

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