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This Close to a Picture of VS Naipaul in Johannesburg

VS Naipaul Charles MoleleAlert! Sunday Times political reporter Charles Molele was this close to meeting one of his literary heroes, VS Naipaul, at the Times‘ offices in Johannesburg earlier this week.

As will be recalled, last Thursday BOOK SA broke the story that Naipaul is in South Africa doing research for a new book. The trip was meant to have been hush-hush, but scuttlebutt at the literary precinct has it that the author’s wife, Nadira, convinced him to dispense with anonymity and meet a few people who matter in these parts.

Said few people included Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes, who tweeted about tea with the Nobel prize winner on Tuesday; and whose tweet was followed shortly thereafter by one from Sunday Times books editor Tymon Smith, who presumably hasn’t washed his hand since shaking Naipaul’s twice:

  1. NicDawes Tea at M&G with VS Naipaul and his wife Nadira. He professes to be baffled by SA, which is a good start.

  3. tymonsmith Just shook VS Naipaul’s hand. Twice.

Alas, the journos upstairs at the Times‘ political desk weren’t so lucky. As Molele wrote in an email to

“Naipaul in South Africa 2009″

The Sunday Times offices were abuzz with rumours that the controversial writer Sir VS Naipaul will doorstep at our offices for a hello before going to his hotel room in one of the leafy suburbs of Johannesburg. He was apparently accompanied by local writer Khadijza Bradlow and his Pakistani wife, Nadira, or Lady Naipaul. We waited in anticipation for his arrival. Alas, we were told, by the books editor, Tymon Smith, that he couldn’t make it upstairs at the editorial section after he became irritated with the security guards at reception.

He is here for the next two weeks and hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of him, and possibly ask him several questions about his turbulent relationship with Paul Theroux, his late wife Pat, and his books about Africa and its people.

Molele assures us that if he could’ve snapped a pic of Naipaul, he would’ve. BOOK SA would like to encourage anyone else who has had contact – or near misses – with Sir Vidia to do as Molele did, and write to with your story. Our offer of literary-paparazzi cash (i.e., a couple hundred bucks) for a photo of the author taken during his current trip remains good, too.

Thanks for the note, Mr Molele!

Photo of VSN courtesy Amitava Kumar


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