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The Mimic Men Paperback – 10 May 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 3 edition (10 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330487108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330487108
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 944,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A Tolstoyan spirit.... The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist."-John Updike, "The New Yorker""Ambitious and successful."-"The Times "(London) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'A Tolstoyan spirit... The so-called thrid World has produced no more brilliant literary artist' John Updike, New Yorker Born of Indian heritage, raised in the British-dependent Caribbean island of Isabella, and educated in England, forty-year-old Ralph Singh has spent a lifetime struggling against the torment of cultural displacement. Now in exile from his native country, he has taken up residence at a quaint hotel in a London suburb, where he is writing his memoirs in an attempt to impose order on a chaotic existence. His memories lead him to recognize the cultural paradoxes and tainted fantasies of his colonial childhood and later life: his attempts to fit in at school, his short-lived marriage to an ostenatious white woman. But it is the return of Isabella and his subsequent immersion in the roiling political atmosphere of a newly self-governing nation - every kind of racial fantasy taking wing - that ultimately provide Singh with the necessary insight to discover the crux of his disillusionment. 'Ambitious and successful... Extremely perceptive' The Times 'The sweep of Naipaul's imagination, the brilliant fictional frame that expresses it, are in my view eithout equal today' New York Times Book Review

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Coote on 18 April 2008
Format: Paperback
Once again exile and cultural dislocation, and the mess of independence, are the principal themes in V S Naipaul's early and acerbic commentary on the ironies and paradoxes of post-colonialism. This time, the narrator, Ralph Singh, an ex-colonial minister from a small Caribbean island, ensconced in London, writes his memoirs from a room in a suburban hotel. His writings rock back and forth between the present and the past in an attempt to explore the meaning of his childhood and the relationship with his family, his education, his brief marriage to a ridiculous white woman and above all his political career in Isabella, the island of his youth, during its formative post-independent years. All the criticisms are here that he has made of his own native Trinidad: the ideological bankruptcy, greed and stupidity of the new post-colonial elite resulting from an inferiority complex in relation to their colonial masters, the abandonment of traditional cultures and values perceived as inherently inferior, and a desire by both communities (African and South Asian) to imitate, to mimic, the behaviour and mores of their white ex-rulers. The result is an ill-disciplined and poorly governed country, with the familiar racial and social tensions that are characteristic of that region and of Naipaul's novels, a place without social cohesion or any meaningful sense of direction. The chaos of Singh's own mean-spirited and selfish life is mapped over that of his unruly country to give a dispiriting pessimism about the future of nations seeking a fresh start after the demise of colonialism. But then this was written in 1967 - and by V S Naipaul.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donal A. O'Neill on 25 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of Naipaul's earlier novels and in it he addresses many of the same themes that occupy his latter, and masterful "A Place in the World". These include the transition of a multi-ethnic Caribbean society from colony to independence; the culture-shock of a colonial exposed to higher education in Europe; post-independence power struggles and, ultimately, failure, corruption and slow descent into near chaos arising from lack of any dynamic other than lust for power and wealth. The cultural impoverishment of Asian communities cut off from their cultural roots are poignantly described here, as in much of Naipauls's other work (including the masterful "A House for Mr.Biswas", where the treatment is tragic-comic). As always Naipaul's evocation of place and character is acute, bleak and wholly convincing. This said however, the major criticism may be less one of the book than of this particular reader. There is only so much reality that can be comfortably absorbed in a single novel. The fact that the first-person narrator, unsparing in his confessions of mean-mindedness, lechery, callousness and greed, is so contemptible a human-being makes it very hard for the reader not to feel soiled by the time the whole sordid tale is done. I first read this book fourteen years ago, and retained a very unpleasant memory of it for this reason. On re-reading I found that my earlier perception was sustained. It is a splendid literary achievement - but a very distasteful one.
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By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely melancholy story of a former minister of a small caribbean country, who ruminates in dingy exile on his life. As he stumbles through life, an intelligent and competent man but out of his depth, the characer is so painfully real that I had to distance myself from it at times. One of the great original voices, Naipaul has a genius for serving up exotic characters and helping us to empathise with them. It is illmninating and a good way to understand the Third World, even if Naipal is a bit too pessimistic; his peccadillos, almost whiny, form a large part of his novels.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
That's only my opinion. I found it very difficult to follow the chronology and sometimes I was completely befuddled as to what was going on. Sometimes the narrator relates his past life with great clarity, for example when he recalls his school days but at other times he is tantalizingly obscure which left me feeling cheated because I wasn't getting the full story.
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