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Miguel Street Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375713875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713873
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of the few contemporary writers of whom we can speak in terms of greatness.” –Mel Gussow, Newsday

“Miguel Street is the Bowery, the Tenderloin, and the Catfish Row of Trinidad’s Port of Spain–its citizens a loony multitude whose knavery often rises from real kinship with pathos and tragedy. . . . Naipaul is at his best in these swift caricatures of human depravity.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Amusing and poignant. . . . Excellent reading.” –Chicago Tribune

“Naipaul does not tell stories. By some miraculous sleight-of-hand he takes you to Port of Spain and shows you the rich, bawdy, consequential lives of the Trinidadians, as though there were no intervening veil of words. . . . I rather suspect the mantle of Chekhov has fallen on Mr. Naipaul’s shoulders.” –Robert Payne, Saturday Review

From the Inside Flap

?A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say ?Slum!? because he could see no more.? But to its residents this derelict corner of Trinidad?s capital is a complete world, where everybody is quite different from everybody else. There?s Popo the carpenter, who neglects his livelihood to build ?the thing without a name.? There?s Man-man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion, and the dreaded Big Foot, the bully with glass tear ducts. There?s the lovely Mrs. Hereira, in thrall to her monstrous husband. In this tender, funny early novel, V. S. Naipaul renders their lives (and the legends their neighbors construct around them) with Dickensian verve and Chekhovian compassion.
Set during World War II and narrated by an unnamed?but precociously observant?neighborhood boy, Miguel Street is a work of mercurial mood shifts, by turns sweetly melancholy and anarchically funny. It overflows with life on every page.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Simply, one of the best books ever written.
Jackie
The book's 17 chapters are distinct stories, and principal characters appear in some or all of them.
Eric Lander
This novel crackles with laughter and detail, using local language to great effect.
Robert J. Crawford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on May 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel crackles with laughter and detail, using local language to great effect. While there are some issues of sadness in the background, Naipaul puts the liveliness to the fore, in this, his first novel. He wrote it while freelancing at the BBC, just out of Oxford and a fearfully anxious young man. It is so different from the utter darkness of his later work that it is hard to believe it is from the same pen. But that is a measure of the talent of this man and the breadth of his vision.
Warmly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Naipaul's novel about daily life on Miguel Street is a masterful piece of literature. The characters are colorful and believable, the writing style is fluid and very readable, and the issues raised about (post)colonialism and neocolonialism are oh so real. Entertaining at times; thought-provoking at others--Naipaul's MIGUEL STREET is a must read for any fan of literary genius.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on November 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
A beautiful portrait of the inhabitants of Miguel Street located in a derelict corner of Trinidad's Capital Port of Spain. Set during World War II, the story is narrated by a precociously observant neighbourhood boy. The mood shifts from sweet melancholy to anarchical fun as we discover the lives of Popo the carpenter, Man-man staging his own crucifixion, Big Foot the bully or the lovely Mrs Hereira in thrall to her monstrous husband. An amusing and poignant book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cipriano on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
There's no two ways about it... this book is funny. Witty. Endlessly sarcastic. There I am, reading it in the park, and laughing out loud in certain parts, like a bit of a loonie!
At one point, the author calls what he's doing here "sketches". That's exactly what it is... connected vignettes. Observations of the lives that make up Miguel Street, a street in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It is all set down and seen through the eyes of a young, fatherless boy.
It is written with such a clear eye that it seems autobiographical, and here on Miguel Street we see the germ or the kernel of many of the characters that Naipaul would develop further in his excellent book "A House For Mr. Biswas" which he published two years after this one.
As others have mentioned, the language, the idioms, the vernacular here are priceless... 1940's Trinidad bursts into view.
I give it 4.5 stars. Refreshing. A little book with big laughs!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was a standard for Literature when I was going to high school. Ten years later, the characters are still as colourful, the prose just as lyrical, and Naipaul still weaves a wonderful story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
i agree with alejandro's review: what you bring to this collection of short stories greatly affects how you perceive it. as someone who has (temporarily) left a post-colonial country, i can understand the yearning of the characters to escape, to find a better life, even though most of them aren't quite sure of how to escape and what exactly a better life entails. does the narrator really escape, though? the last paragraph describes him (or at least his shadow) as a dwarf on the tarmac, as though he were deformed (no offense meant to small people) or permanently marked by his efforts to leave somehow. i read "a way in the world" before "miguel street" and it's almost frightening to see how much "miguel street" is a portent of the despair, isolation, and desire in "a way in the world."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of inter-connected stories and character sketches set in the island of Trinidad, the author's birthplace, years ago when he was a boy. The tales are charming, some funny, some sad, some both, and all are told in Naipaul's short, mostly (if not completely) perfect sentences. Anyone interested in the life and culture of the Caribbean would do well to read and re-read this little gem of a book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1978. Twenty years later, it is still serious, funny and most importantly is a pungent reminder of times past.
Highly recommended.
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