London, May 15: A shocking biography of the Nobel laureate Sir V.S.Naipaul, 'The World Is What It Is', which exposes his cruelty towards those closest to him, is tipped to win the Samuel Johnson prize.
Patrick French's 'The World is What it is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul' heads the shortlist for the 2008 Samuel Johnson prize, worth 30,000 pounds. The five other books include an investigation of a Victorian murder and a study of crows, but it is French's tome that is causing waves in literary circles, turning assumptions about official biographies on their head.
"Like it or not, this biography will change the way we read Naipaul's books, and for the worse," Times Online quoted one of it's reviewer, as saying.
Paul Theroux, who wrote his own wounding account of his relationship with Naipaul, said: "It is not a pretty story. It will probably destroy Naipaul's reputation forever. French attributes his subject's willingness to bare all to a combination "of narcissism and humility".
Last year's prize was won by Rajiv Chandrasekaran for 'Imperial Life in the Emerald City'. This year's winner will be announced on July 15.