London, Aug 12 (AP/UNB) — V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidad-born Nobel laureate whose precise and lyrical writing in such novels as "A Bend in the River" and "A House for Mr. Biswas" and brittle, misanthropic personality made him one of the world's most admired and contentious writers, died Saturday at his London home, his family said. He was 85.
His wife, Nadira Naipaul, said he was "a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavor."
His friend and fellow author Paul Theroux said that he had been in poor health, but had taken pride in having his work recognized.
"He will go down as one of the greatest writers of our time," Theroux told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Saturday, citing his mastery of writing about families and colonialism. "He also never wrote falsely. He was a scourge of anyone who used a cliché or an un-thought out sentence. He was very scrupulous about his writing, very severe, too."
Naipaul's fiction and nonfiction reflected his personal journey from Trinidad to London and various stops in developing countries. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories."
In an extraordinary career spanning half a century, Naipaul traveled as a self-described "barefoot colonial" from his rural childhood to upper class England, and was hailed as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. From "A Bend in the River" to "The Enigma of Arrival" to "Finding the Centre," Naipaul's books explored colonialism and decolonization, exile and the struggles of the everyman in the developing world.
He was critical of colonialism, but set himself apart from any social movements. He saw himself as a realist, cured of illusions, his outlook defined by the famous opening words of "A Bend in the River" that became the title of a biography by Patrick French: "The world is what it is."
He was equally skeptical of religion and politics, of idealism of any kind, whether revolutionary uprisings or of quests for paradise such as Sir Walter Raleigh's search for the non-existent El Dorado.
"If you come from the New World, as I in large measure do, you see all the absurd fantasies people have taken there and the troubles they have wrought as a result," Naipaul told The Associated Press in 2000. "We were not given a proper history of the New World itself. This was not out of wickedness. It was out of ignorance, out of indifference, out of the feelings that the history of this very small island was not important. These aspects one had to learn and writing took me there. One didn't begin with knowledge. One wrote oneself into knowledge."
Naipaul prided himself on his candor, but he had a long history of offensive remarks. Among his widely quoted comments: He called India a "slave society," quipped that Africa has no future, and explained that Indian women wear a colored dot on their foreheads to say "my head is empty." He laughed off the 1989 fatwa by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie as "an extreme form of literary criticism."
The critic Terry Eagleton once said of Naipaul: "Great art, dreadful politics." Caribbean Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott complained that the author's prose was tainted by his "repulsion towards Negroes." C. L. R. James, a fellow Trinidadian writer, put it differently: Naipaul's views, he wrote, simply reflected "what the whites want to say but dare not."
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul — Vidia to those who knew him — was born on Aug. 17, 1932 in Trinidad, a descendant of impoverished Indians shipped to the West Indies as bonded laborers.
His father was an aspiring, self-taught novelist whose ambitions were killed by lack of opportunity; the son was determined to leave his homeland as soon as he could. In later years, he would repeatedly reject his birthplace as little more than a plantation.
"I was born there, yes," he said of Trinidad to an interviewer in 1983. "I thought it was a great mistake."
In 1950, Naipaul was awarded one of a few available government scholarships to study in England, and he left his family to begin his studies in English literature at University College, Oxford.
There he met his first wife, Patricia Hale, whom he married in 1955 without telling his family.
After graduation, Naipaul suffered a period of poverty and unemployment: he was asthmatic, starving and depending on his wife for income. Despite his Oxford education, he found himself surrounded by a hostile, xenophobic London.
"These people want to break my spirit ... They want me to know my place," he wrote bitterly to his wife.
Naipaul eventually landed a radio job working for BBC World Service, where he discussed West Indian literature and found his footing as a writer. His breakthrough came in 1957 with his first published novel "The Mystic Masseur," a humorous book about the lives of powerless people in a Trinidad ghetto.
Naipaul caught the eye of book reviewers, and in 1959 he won the Somerset Maugham Award with the story collection "Miguel Street." In 1961, Naipaul published the celebrated "A House for Mr. Biswas." That novel, about how one man's life was restricted by the limits of colonial society, was a tribute to Naipaul's father.
"If he had been born in another culture, not a colonial agricultural society, his talent would have given him a reasonable chance somewhere and he would have flourished," Naipaul told the AP in 2000. "Part of his pathos was that he was born in the wrong place."
In the years that followed, Naipaul was to travel for extensive periods to pen journalistic essays and travel books. He flew three times to India, his ancestral home, to write about its culture and politics. He spent time in Buenos Aires, Argentina to write about its former First Lady Eva Peron, and went to Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia for books about Islam.
Years before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Naipaul devoted attention to Islamic radicalism in books including "Among the Believers" and "Beyond Belief."
In its Nobel citation, the Swedish Academy called him "a literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself."
Naipaul's nonfiction often provoked much anger, and many were offended by his views about Islam and India — Rushdie, for example, thought Naipaul was promoting Hindu nationalism.
Rushdie tweeted late Saturday night: "We disagreed all our lives, about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RIP Vidia."
Naipaul also continued to publish award-winning novels. "The Mimic Men" won the W.H. Smith Award in 1967, and in 1971 "In a Free State," a meditation on colonialism in Africa, was awarded the Booker Prize.
Africa also provided the setting for his 1979 novel "A Bend in the River." His life of travel and transitions was reflected in the 1987 novel "The Enigma of Arrival," which some considered his masterpiece.
Naipaul received a knighthood in 1990, and in 2001 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
As his literary stature grew, so did his reputation as a difficult, irascible personality. Naipaul was a private man and did not have many friends, but his personal life entered the public domain when Theroux, whose relationship with Naipaul had soured, published a stinging memoir about Naipaul in 1998.
"Sir Vidia's Shadow" described Naipaul as a racist, sexist miser who threw terrifying tantrums and beat up women.
Naipaul ignored Theroux's book, but he did authorize a candid biography that confirmed some of Theroux's claims. The biography, published in 2008, devoted chapters to how Naipaul met and callously treated his mistress, an Anglo-Argentine woman who was married and about a decade younger than he was. It recalled Naipaul's confession to The New Yorker that he bought sex and was a "great prostitute man," and recorded Naipaul's frank and disturbing comments on how that destroyed his wife, Hale, who died of breast cancer in 1996.
"It could be said that I had killed her," he told biographer Patrick French. "I feel a little bit that way."
Two months after Hale died, Naipaul married his second wife, Pakistani newspaper columnist Nadira Khannum Alvi. He spent much of his time living quietly in an isolated cottage in Wiltshire, in the English countryside.
Theroux, who later reconciled with Naipaul, had visited with him recently.
"We had some very ups and downs over the years, but there was great satisfaction in reconnecting," he said. "It took him a long time to make his mark, but when he did, it happened in a big way."
Salt, Aug 12 (AP/UNB) — Jordanian search teams pulled the bodies of three suspected militants from the rubble of their hideout, a government official said Sunday, hours after assailants opened fire and set off explosions that killed four members of the security forces trying to storm the building.
The clash late Saturday was among the deadliest between suspected militants and Jordanian security forces in recent years. It raised new concerns about attempts by domestic and foreign militants to carry out attacks and destabilize the pro-Western kingdom.
Jordan has played a key role in an international military coalition that helped push back the extremist group Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq.
The chain of events in Jordan began Friday when assailants detonated a homemade bomb under a police car guarding a music festival in the predominantly Christian town of Fuheis, west of the capital, Amman. The blast killed a police officer.
King Abdullah II on Sunday denounced the "cowardly act of terrorism" and said Jordan would respond with "force and determination to eradicate terrorism and its criminal gangs."
The kingdom's security forces have cracked down on suspected Islamic militants in recent years, but a series of fatal attacks, including on security installations, have highlighted Jordan's continued vulnerability.
Jordanian authorities did not say Sunday what motivated the Fuheis attackers, and there was no claim of responsibility.
Security forces chasing the suspects in the Fuheis attack zeroed in on a multi-story building in the nearby town of Salt on Saturday and attempted to storm it. The suspects holed up inside opened fire and set off powerful explosions, officials said. A wing of the building collapsed.
In initial statements late Saturday, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghuneimat said three members of the security forces were killed. She said Sunday that a fourth officer had died and that the bodies of three suspects were pulled from the rubble. Five suspects are in custody.
The Hala Akhbar news website, linked to Jordan's military, said the suspects are Jordanians and that the cell had planned to attack security installations and other sensitive targets. The site said the suspects had been armed with explosives, grenades and other weapons.
Jordan has been a target of Islamic State attacks in recent years.
In June 2016, a cross-border car bombing launched from Syria killed seven Jordanian border guards. In December 2016, a shootout at a crusader castle in the southern town of Karak left 14 people dead, including seven members of the security forces, four militants and three civilians.
Jordan is considered an important security ally, particularly by the United States and Israel, which view any signs of unrest there with concern.
The kingdom has cracked down on suspected militants in recent years, imposing prison terms of several years for suspected sympathizers, including those expressing support for militant ideologies on social media.
At the same time, hopelessness and alienation among some of the kingdom's young people, driven by high youth unemployment, have provided fertile ground for recruitment by militant groups.
Tokyo, Aug 11 (AP/UNB) — Japanese authorities say all nine people aboard a search and rescue helicopter that crashed into the central mountains are confirmed dead.
The Bell 412EP helicopter carrying seven local rescue workers from the Gunma prefecture and two from a flight service company lost contact an hour after takeoff Friday and crashed.
Prefectural officials say the last person aboard was retrieved Saturday and pronounced dead.
The helicopter was on a two-hour flight to monitor a mountain trail. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Japanese media quoted witnesses as saying the helicopter was flying extremely low in foggy weather before the crash.
Guatemala City, Aug 11 (AP/UNB) — Guatemalan prosecutors and a United Nations-backed anti-graft commission sought for a third time Friday to have President Jimmy Morales' immunity of office lifted so they can investigate him for possible illicit electoral financing.
Maria Consuelo Porras, chief prosecutor and head of the Public Ministry, said the request was in relation to Morales' time as secretary-general of his political party, before his election in 2016.
Morales, who is suspected of receiving at least $1 million in undeclared campaign contributions from business interests in 2015, has denied wrongdoing in the past and said attempts to investigate him are politically motivated.
In a statement, his office said the president respects the rule of law and "reiterates his commitment to institutions in the country, to legal order and due process."
Twice last year prosecutors tried without success to have the president's immunity lifted. The first time, the Supreme Court allowed the request to progress to the congress where there were not sufficient votes to lift Morales' immunity. The second time, the court did not allow it to progress that far.
Those attempts happened on the watch of then-chief prosecutor Thelma Aldana, who was internationally recognized for her aggressive anti-corruption investigations in tandem with the U.N. commission, known as Cicig for its initials in Spanish.
The new request comes under the leadership of Porras, who was chosen by Morales to replace Aldana.
She said it was based on newly discovered evidence in the case.
Honolulu, Aug 11 (AP/UNB) — A U.S. judge in Hawaii says a federal agent can't be tried a third time for shooting and killing a man in a Waikiki McDonald's restaurant.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled Friday that Hawaii prosecutors may not proceed with a retrial against U.S. State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy.
Watson's ruling directs Hawaii officials to dismiss the case against Deedy and release him from his bail conditions.
A 2013 murder trial ended in a hung jury. A second jury in 2013 acquitted him of murder but deadlocked on manslaughter.
Deedy's defense attorneys argued a third trial on manslaughter would violate the double jeopardy clause of the constitution.
Deedy was in Honolulu for a 2011 international summit. He was off-duty when he was shot Kollin Elderts during an altercation.