V.S. Naipaul, the British author whose more than 20 books include several critical of Muslim fundamentalism, has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Naipaul had been considered a longtime contender to win the award. "It is enormously gratifying that V.S. Naipaul has been chosen to receive the Nobel Prize," said Sonny Mehta, president and publisher of the Knopf publishing group, Naipaul's U.S. publisher. Mehta observed that Naipaul's themes of alienation, colonialism and the struggles of the Third World, "are more relevant than ever before to the world in which we live."

The Swedish Academy singled out Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival for particular praise, noting that in the work Naipaul created an "unrelenting image of the placid collapse of the old colonial ruling culture and the demise of European neighborhoods." Other well-received titles include A House for Mr. Biswas and A Bend in the River.

Naipaul most recent book, Between Father and Son, was released by Knopf in 1999, but October 16 is the pub date for Naipaul's first novel in eight years, Half a Life. A first printing of 25,000 has been augmented by a second printing of 50,000 copies. According to Paul Bogaards, senior

v-p and executive director of publicity, Knopf plans to go back to press for all of Naipaul's backlist titles, which includes 10 Vintage trade paperbacks. Bogaards noted that even before the announcement of the Nobel came, Naipaul's reputation as an outspoken critic of fundamentalism in non-Arab countries had increased interest in his books since the events of September 11.

Vintage plans to reprint four of Naipaul's works next year, and Knopf has an eight-book contract for new titles.