Sir Vidia's shadow : a friendship across five continents

by Paul Theroux

Paper Book, 2000


Checked out
Due Dec 16, 2019


Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2000.


One year before he published his first book, Paul Theroux met V.S. Naipaul-Vidia, as he was known. For thirty years both men remained in close touch, even when continents separated them. Sir Vidia's Shadow is a double portrait of the writing life, but it is much more, for travel and reading and emotional ups and downs are also aspects of this friendship, which is powerful and enriching and often a comedy - and, ultimately, a bridge that is burned. Built around exotic landscapes, anecdotes that are revealing, humorous, and melancholy, and three decades of mutual history, this is a very personal account of how one develops as a writer, how a friendship waxes and wanes between two men who have set themselves on the perilous journey of a writing life, and what constitutes the relationship of mentor and student.… (more)

Media reviews

It would be overmuch to say Theroux sighed with relief at the end; yet, undeniably, there is a sense of liberation. This friendship is no easy subject for portraiture—oblique, intuitive, unspoken, irrational as it often is. Theroux does his best to explicate, filling this memoir with telling incidents, blending passion with dispassion, writing with elegance. As for Naipaul: “Never give anyone a second chance.”

User reviews

LibraryThing member danoomistmatiste
The fact that the author put up with the world's most famous curmudgeon for nearly 30 year is telling something. Paul Theroux treated Naipaul as a mentor of sorts, always living in his shadow, despite the fact that he always had to pick up the lunch and dinner tabs. After all this closeness, the bridge is finally burnt when Naipaul fails to even acknowledge the author's presence on a bright and sunny london day.… (more)


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