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The V.S. Naipaul flap

Has anybody been following the latest V.S. Naipaul flap?  He’s a famous novelist.  A Nobel laureate.  He must be a pretty smart guy.  Except, in an interview at the Royal Geographic Society in London, he started picking on Jane Austen and female writers in general.  He accused Austen of sentimentality, and he claimed that women’s writing is inferior because a woman has a “narrow view of the world, since she is inevitably not a complete master of the house.”

Way to alienate half your readership, buddy.

But why did he target Jane Austen, of all people?  I don’t see sentimentality in Austen.  I see her witty, sarcastic take on the sentimentality of her contemporaries.  Huh.  Maybe Naipaul didn’t notice that part.  Maybe he thinks Price and Prejudice is just a silly little romance penned by a lightweight member of that “damned mob of scribbling women,” as Nathaniel Hawthorne called female writers.

I love this response from Nilanjana S. Roy.  She says it better than I ever could.

A couple of weeks ago, I started messing around with Librarything and Goodreads.  I didn’t get very far in creating a list of my favorite books–just far enough to realize it was taking too much of my time–but I soon realized my reading tastes must make me look scatter-brained.  My favorites are all over the map.  I have no unifying theme or genre in my reading, and I don’t care what the author’s gender is.

Take a peek at one of the shelves in my office.  In no particular order, I have books by C.S. Lewis, Diana Gabaldon, Eudora Welty, Chaim Potok, Joshilyn Jackson, Siri Mitchell, Michael Spencer, Lindi Peterson, Helen Fielding, Dale Cramer, Harper Lee, Mary Kay Andrews, William Shakespeare, and Jennifer Crusie, plus the Lutheran Book of Prayer.  I’m sure V.S. Naipaul wouldn’t approve of most of those choices.

Poor guy.  He doesn’t know how much fun he’s missing.

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