VS Naipaul’s sisters claim they have not been invited to author’s funeral

By Colin Maximin

Sir VS Naipaul was awarded the Booker prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature during his distinguished career CREDIT: MAJA SUSLIN/ AFP

(THE TELEGRAPH) – The sister of the late author Sir VS Naipaul has claimed that the details of her brother’s funeral are being kept a secret.

Trinidad-born British writer Naipaul, who died on August 11 in London, was awarded the Booker prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature during his distinguished career.

In an exclusive interview from her Trinidad home, Savi Akal, 80, said that the three surviving siblings — herself and her sisters Nalini Chapman, 66, and Mira Enalsingh, 82 — have not been told anything about arrangements for their brother’s funeral since he died on Saturday.

Mrs Akal said it seems his birth family is being kept in the dark over funeral arrangements for the author. Naipaul never held a funeral for his first wife, Pat, she said, so it may be that he did not request one.

Mrs Akal last saw Naipaul, 85, at his London flat in April, when the family celebrated her 80th birthday with him and his wife, Lady Nadira Naipaul.

She said the family heard through the grapevine that attendance at their brother’s funeral would be by invitation only.

The Telegraph was unable to reach Lady Naipaul for comment.

Since hearing of her brother’s death, she has been listening often to BBC radio news for any word of his funeral, and claimed that Lady Naipaul, her sister in law of 20 years, had not communicated any such details with any of the sisters.

Mrs Akal said: “After the news on Saturday we have not had a word from her. Nalini, in Scotland, has not been told anything since. Mira in the US, neither.

“We do not know if there is going to be a funeral. We do not know if our brother wanted a funeral.

“If there is going to be one, we will have to be invited, and no such invitation has been extended to us. We are a family of orientation,” she said.

“We haven’t heard anything. It could be that she’s probably making arrangements.”

She added: “His wife knows where were are living. She should be telling us.”

Mrs Akal said she had sent Lady Naipaul an e-mail but had received no reply.

Naipaul had been ailing for the past three months, and he had to be rushed to hospital a few times, Mrs Akal said. “We all knew what was going to happen.”

In April she spoke to her brother at length, and though he hardly said a word, she says: “He was still sharp; he knew everything about what was happening in the literary world.”

However, “We knew his body was giving up,” Mrs Akal said.

She had asked Naipaul, who left the family in Trinidad at 18 for Oxford University on a national scholarship, how he would like to be remembered.

“He told me that his work must live on. That was his final wish.”

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