The younger brother of novelist V. S. Naipaul, he died from a heart attack at the age of 40, sitting at his writing desk.
He went first to Queen’s Royal College and St Mary’s College in Trinidad, then emigrated to Britain, having won a scholarship to study Chinese at University College, Oxford. In addition to its inclusion on the longlist for the Lost Man Booker Prize, Shiva Naipaul’s first novel, Fireflies (1970), won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize from the Royal Society of Literature. After the success of Fireflies, he went on to publish The Chip-Chip Gatherers (1973). Naipaul was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978 and his work in journalism included two pieces of non-fiction, North of South (1978) and Black & White (1980). His next novel was A Hot Country (1983), a departure from his two earlier comic novels set in Trinidad, as well as a collection of fiction and non-fiction, Beyond the Dragon’s Mouth: Stories and Pieces (1984).