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Naipaul's 'last' book

SANDEEP SAXENA

AGE seems to have mellowed him. So even as those present at the launch of V.S. NAIPAUL'S new book, Magic Seeds, waited rather expectantly for fireworks, they were taken aback when the writer known for his acerbic comments, often bordering on nastiness, decided to purr instead.

Naipaul, unlike his "normal" self played a role that does not come easily to him — of being gentle and charming. In a rare show of bonhomie and good humour, he talked about life as a writer and indicated that this might be his last book. "People don't write when they are 72. When I was young I had tremendous energy and I used to write a lot in the mornings when the mind is sharp."

Getting nostalgic he recalled the "good old days" when publishing was just about printing a book and getting it into stores. Publishers published and a few months later you'd get a cheque for royalty.

"But now there is a launch and a publicist takes over. I think I preferred the old ways when your books made their own way."

Magic Seeds, he said, would be his last book "and I think this is the last time I will stand here fumbling with a ribbon." But old habits, as they say die hard, so ...

SUCHITRA BEHAL

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