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on 28 November 2012
I had to read this book for my MA in Creative Writing - it's not something I would have picked up otherwise. This is an amazing book, deceptively clever and beautifully written. One of the discussions on the MA was whether this is truly a novel or a collection of short stories. I came down on the side of the novel. There is a cohesive thread running through the various 'sketches', and the partly autobiographical narrator is always engaging and provides a fascinating filter. More of Naipaul's books are now on my Christmas list, and this is one I will return to again and again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2014
The narrator looks back at his youth on a street in 1940s Port of Spain, Trinidad.
"A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say 'Slum!' because he could see no more. But we, who lived there, saw our street as a world, where everybody was quite different from everybody else."
Some of the characters have a strong presence throughout (some are even carried over from another of Naipaul's works, 'The Mystic Masseur'), whereas others only feature in 'their' chapter - thus this feels rather like a set of short stories.
The characters are quite memorable: Bhakcu, 'the mechanical genius', who wrecks every car he tries to fix; a beaten wife; a poet; a woman who has eight children by seven fathers - while the narrator and his friends observe and discuss the world around them in Trinidadian English. Thus discussing schoolwork:
" 'Is the English and litritcher that does beat me'.
In Elias's mouth litritcher was the most beautiful word I heard. it sounded like something to eat, something rich like chocolate.
Hat said, 'You mean you have to read a lot of poultry and thing?' "

I didn't enjoy this book as much as Naipaul's superb 'A House for Mr Biswas', and found some of the stories less compelling than others, but overall quite a good read
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on 27 March 2013
Took a little while to adjust to the style of language, but an easy and enjoyable read after that. I liked the way the short stories were linked by featuring previously met characters from 'the street'.
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on 2 September 2004
This was an excellent book! It expreesed the lives of the men of northern Trinidad. It was hilarious yet there was a deeper meaning that most people didn't get after reading the book. My favourite character was Hat, simply because he was greatly liked by everyone on Migel Street and he gave the best advice. What i didn't lie though is that the author made Trinidadians out to be carefree people who always 'limed' and never had education in mind. This was a great literature book, though, and deserved the Nobel Prize it got. Way to go Sir Naipaul! you've done us Trinidadians proud!
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on 24 November 2003
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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on 16 April 2015
Although this is well written and mildly amusing, it isn't really a novel, more a series of short stories based on characters that live on Miguel Street, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where Naipaul grew up during the late 1930s and through most of the 40s. The second world war seems to pass the island by, apart from an influx of US servicemen, who feature on the sidelines.
The characters seem to be (though it isn't always made clear) a variety of Indian, West Indian and white, and the best thing about it is the way Naipaul captures the way people talk (in a sort of broken Caribbean English) and the atmosphere of the place.

The chapters don't follow on from each other, but keep going over the same time span, with each story narrated by a local boy (unnamed, but presumably Naipaul himself), centred around his experiences relating to each character. As such, it becomes quite repetitive, with people who died in a previous chapter appearing again in later chapters.
The dark humour is restrained and barely makes up for the lack of a plot or any real suspense, and I found it an easy book to put down; in fact, for me the similarities of each story meant it worked best in short bursts, one or two chapters at a time, with a break to read other things in between, and in this way it is quite entertaining.
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on 22 February 2012
I adore this book. I particularly enjoyed the writing style and how all the experiences were expressed through the eyes of a child with a limited understanding of 'adult' business.

It is very simple but so near to the truth about the way things can often be 'back home'. As someone who spent a couple of years living in the Caribbean, it enchantingly brought me back to island life with the colourful characters and use of colloquial phrases.

Some people might find it odd that the stories mostly end without a 'punchline' but I totally get it. It represents a simple side of island life and does not try to be anything that it is not.

For me, a definite favourite.
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on 29 June 2015
Miguel Street is my favourite V.S Naipaul novel. Its funny but not sentimental A vibrant portrait of street life in Trinidad after WW2. Written from the point of view of a child it is naïve but never over sweet and without a hint of the sourness that mars his later novels.
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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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on 29 July 2015
This is one of those books that bring out every few years to read, and I have given a few of them as gifts. Unfortunately this book came in Spanish instead of English.
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