Sir Vidia Naipaul lives with his wife Nadira in Wiltshire, in a house surrounded by fields, with the River Avon running past the foot of the garden. Outside the study window a roe deer and fawn stand motionless. A second glance reveals that they are lifelike wicker-work shapes, the gifts of an anonymous admirer, possibly someone who approves of Naipaul’s passionate concern for animal welfare. He believes that when the local hunt is up, wild animals take shelter in the garden. We talked over two days about his interest in Africa, his latest book, ‘The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief’, and his long writing career.