Sir Vidia Naipaul likes cats, so he cannot be all bad. There is a charming photograph which this magazine used four years ago to illustrate an interview with him. It shows the 2001 Nobel Laureate in Literature, relaxed and smiling as he holds his cat Augustus (mentioned in the piece), who meets the camera with feline nonchalance, legs askew, supremely trusting of his master.
An appealing feature of Naipaul’s latest book, a probing trundle round some of Africa’s less prominent countries in search of the roots of their religious beliefs, is the way he is often stopped in his tracks by cats. He himself works hard not to intrude on the action,