Saturday 24 October, 2020

VS Naipaul makes BBC's list of 100 most influential novels

The BBC has named Sir VS Naipaul’s ‘A House for Mr Biswas’ as one of 100 novels that helped shape the world.

In an article published November 5, 2019, the BBC said the list was selected by a panel of leading writers, curators, and critics to select novels which had an impact on their lives.

The panel consists of Radio 4 Front Row presenter and Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell, broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, authors Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal and Alexander McCall Smith, and Bradford Festival Literary Director Syima Aslam.

‘A House for Mr Biswas’, viewed by some as Naipaul’s first work to achieve critical acclaim worldwide, was written in 1961 and tells the story of Mohun Biswas' life-long goal to have a home of his own.

Drawing some elements from the life of Naipaul's father, the work is a sharply drawn look at life that uses postcolonial perspectives to view a vanished colonial world.

Despite hardship, Biswas becomes a journalist and his son Anand is able to secure a scholarship to England.

The novel is set in the iconic Lion House, the ancestral home of the Capildeo family. The Lion House has been recommended as a Heritage Site and is located in Chaguanas.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked A House for Mr Biswas number 72 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century and Time magazine included the novel in its "TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005".

Born in 1932, Sir Naipaul attended Queen’s Royal College and went on to win an Open National Scholarship to University College, Oxford.

In 1990 he was knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth and in 1992 he was awarded the Trinity Cross for services to the nation.

In 2001 Sir Naipaul was awarded the Nobel prize for literature.

He died on August 11, 2018.

Some of his well-known novels include The Guerillas (1975),The Middle Passage (1962) A Bend in the River (1979), Among the Believers (1981), The Enigma of Arrival (1987), India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990), Beyond Belief (1998) and Half a Life (2001).

See the complete list below:

BBC’s list of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World


Beloved – Toni Morrison

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry

Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

Small Island – Andrea Levy

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

White Teeth – Zadie Smith


Love, Sex & Romance

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

Forever – Judy Blume

Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Riders – Jilly Cooper

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

The Far Pavilions – M. M. Kaye

The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak

The Passion – Jeanette Winterson

The Slaves of Solitude – Patrick Hamilton



City of Bohane – Kevin Barry

Eye of the Needle – Ken Follett

For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman

Ivanhoe – Walter Scott

Mr Standfast – John Buchan

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Jack Aubrey Novels – Patrick O’Brian

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien


Life, Death & Other Worlds

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

Astonishing the Gods – Ben Okri

Dune – Frank Herbert

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis

The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett

The Earthsea Trilogy – Ursula K. Le Guin

The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman

The Road – Cormac McCarthy


Politics, Power & Protest

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman

Strumpet City – James Plunkett

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

V for Vendetta – Alan Moore

Unless – Carol Shields


Class & Society

A House for Mr Biswas – V. S. Naipaul

Cannery Row – John Steinbeck

Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee

Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

Poor Cow – Nell Dunn

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alan Sillitoe

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne – Brian Moore

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys


Coming of Age

Emily of New Moon – L. M. Montgomery

Golden Child - Claire Adam

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

So Long, See You Tomorrow – William Maxwell

Swami and Friends – R. K. Narayan

The Country Girls - Edna O’Brien

The Harry Potter series - J. K. Rowling

The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ - Sue Townsend

The Twilight Saga – Stephenie Meyer


Family & Friendship

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

The Witches – Roald Dahl


Crime & Conflict

American Tabloid – James Ellroy

American War – Omar El Akkad

Ice Candy Man – Bapsi Sidhwa

Rebecca -Daphne du Maurier

Regeneration – Pat Barker

The Children of Men – P.D. James

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid

The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith

The Quiet American – Graham Greene


Rule Breakers

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

Bartleby, the Scrivener – Herman Melville

Habibi – Craig Thompson

How to be Both – Ali Smith

Orlando – Virginia Woolf

Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

Psmith, Journalist – P. G. Wodehouse

The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Audre Lorde

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