As you may have heard, Sir Vidia is underwhelmed by women writers.
In an interview at the Royal Geographic Society on Tuesday about his career, Naipaul, who has been described as the “greatest living writer of English prose”, was asked if he considered any woman writer his literary match. He replied: “I don’t think so.” Of Austen he said he “couldn’t possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world”.
Now, I’m not going to get bent out of shape about this absurd sexism. And I suggest no one else does either. As Paul Theroux abundantly pointed out, Sir Vidia is a big-time douche.
But Naipaul also claimed he could tell within a paragraph if the writer was male or female. The Guardian created a helpful little test to see if you could determine a writer’s gender based solely on a paragraph.
I scored one out of ten. To make matters worse, I’d read most of the books from which the selections were taken, and count a few among my favorites of all time.