Enigma of Naipul discussed

Mar 21, 2002, vol. 23, no. 6
By Carol Thorbes



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Two pioneers from developing countries, who have contributed to literary development and international peacekeeping, respectively, will be the focus of Simon Fraser University's final lectures about 2001 Nobel prize winners.

On April 2, SFU English professor Chin Banerjee will discuss the literary achievements of Trinidad-born Vidia Surajpersad Naipaul, whose novels, short stories and travel writing won him the 2001 Nobel prize in literature. In his lecture The enigmatic arrival of V.S. Naipaul, or the triumph of a homeless Mandarin, Banerjee will delve into the controversy surrounding Naipaul's reputation and the complex artistry in his gloomy portrayal of post-colonial cultures.

“Naipaul has as many admirers as detractors,” notes Banerjee, whose initially angry response to the laureate's work inspired his own research on post-colonial writing.

“Naipaul is both praised and criticized for his harsh portrayal of formerly colonized developing countries, depending on where the critic is writing from. But his innovative crossing of the boundaries between autobiographical, fictional and travel writing, and his excellence as a writer of English prose are beyond dispute.”

SFU political scientist Lenard Cohen will examine the historic accomplishments of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in SFU's final lecture on Nobel Prize winners, on April 9.

Originally from Ghana, Annan was a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel peace prize.

The achievements for which he was recognized included fostering peace, nation-building and human rights.

Annan shares the Nobel prize with the United Nations, the world's most important multi-national organization for conflict-management and peacekeeping.

It was the first time that the Nobel peace prize selection committee chose two recipients.

“The dual award strengthens the legitimacy and impact of the secretary-general's position and the United Nation's in carrying out their tasks,” says Cohen.

In his lecture Perils of peacekeeping: Kofi Annan and post-cold war conflict, Cohen will offer a personal perspective on the magnitude of Annan's and the UN's accomplishments in this age of modern terrorism.
Cohen frequently advises governments and academics worldwide about the political climate in zones of conflict such as southeastern Europe and Eurasia. “The international community is still acclimatizing itself to a post Cold War era,” says Cohen. “Annan has aided the UN in showing the United States and other developed nations that there is no cookie cutter solution for regional conflict and nation-building.”

Cohen's and Bannerjee's lectures conclude Making a Difference by Pursuing a Passion for Excellence, a six part free public lecture series on recent Nobel prize winners presented by SFU's faculty of arts and science. For more information and to reserve a seat call 604.291.5100 or email cs_hc@sfu.ca

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