If I recall from some reports, the conversation was not on postcolonialism, but on Indian writing in English, or some such. The Indian government had basically invited virtually every writer of Indian origin who's had a novel published, to be there. Postcolonial impact was likely one of the subjects at the conference -- so it isn't as if Naipaul went to a conference knowing fully well what it was about. Rather, he went to one which was about writing by people of Indian origin, and he went to a session on poco writing. I agree his behaviour was indeed uncivil -- you don't shout at a speaker mid-sentence; you raise your points subsequently, and he'd have had a rapt audience then, because many in India have suddenly gotten very proud of this "Indian" achievement, of an "Indian" winning the Nobel, and Naipaul's current politics meshes well with the dominant discourse in India at present. But having said that, I believe Naipaul was within his rights to ask his colleagues -- I believe only novelists and a few critics were inside the auditorium -- do we have to go on and on about colonial impact? The question is valid; the tone, the uncivility were uncalled for.
Last Modified: 1 March 2002