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The Mimic Men

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  622 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The Mimic Men is a moving novel that evokes a colonial man's experience in the postcolonial world. Naipaul is the author of 13 works of fiction and has won many prizes including the Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Paperback, 278 pages
Published by Picador (first published 1967)
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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysBreath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge DanticatThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayOur Man in Havana by Graham GreeneMiguel Street by V.S. Naipaul
The Caribbean 101
63rd out of 326 books — 54 voters
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysBreath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge DanticatThe Dew Breaker by Edwidge DanticatThe Farming of Bones by Edwidge DanticatIn the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Caribbean Literature
68th out of 289 books — 106 voters

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Community Reviews

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The Mimic Men by V. S. Naipaul

This is not a spoiler alert per se, since I will not disclose any plot or ending. However, I will not write so much about the book as what it made me feel, think and…write. You are welcome to read my “re-view”, but if you want to know more about the plot, the style…I am afraid this may be of little help

V.S. Naipaul has the magic touch. Writing about (my impression) of The Mimic Men, I think of A Bend in the River and A House for Mr. Biswas. To make amends for my lac
I think this is one of the first books I've ever read (at least that I'm consciously aware of) that won a Pulitzer Prize. I can see why it won it. I can also see why popular fiction will never win the Pulitzer.

The novel tells the story of a Caribbean politician and his life "in parenthesis" on his home island and in London. The narrative voice doesn't shift from place to place, which focuses the cohesiveness of the personality that moves between the two spaces. The narrator's depiction of his ow
"Sentence for sentence, he is a model of literary tact and precision…" – for me that is why one should read this book. There is not a line that does not feel considered. This is precisely what Naipaul intended to say. It might not be what a lot of people want to hear but I would respectfully suggest that it is far from irrelevant. A lot of dull (and, indeed, unsympathetic) characters have had a lot to say, Camus' Meursault, in his prison cell (The Outsider), and Saul Bellow's Joseph, in his chea ...more
I think perhaps the style of the prose is a large factor towards my disliking this novel - it just wasn't for me.

However, I think the main reason I didn't like it was the protagonist, Ralph Singh. I just couldn't connect to the man, no matter how hard I tried.

Mostly, it felt like this was a novel that was floating by me, but that I could not grasp on to.
Casey (Myshkin) Buell
For fans of Naipaul The Mimic Men will cover familiar territory; isolation, identity, apathy. For newcomers to Naipaul I suggest you start somewhere else. Guerrillas or A Bend in the River would probably be the best starting point. In The Mimic Men we are treated to the first person account of the life of Ralph Singe, former government minister of the small island nation of Isabella, now living in exile. The story is split into three non-linear sections: the first detailing Ralph's college years ...more
Geetanjali Tara Joshi
good work but sounds very stereotype, a young second generation immigrant Indian in the Caribbeans being toyed by the world powers..
Mashael Alamri
في أماكنهم البعيدة المعزولة يشعر الجميع بأنهم أخف من الريشة حيث لا قيمة حقيقة للأشياء في مواجهة الكم الهائل من الإنتهاك الذي يشعر به أبناء المناطق المستعمرة , في إزابلا تلك القطعة الملاقاة على رقعة الزرقة الواسعة حيث الأسرار الكثيرة التي تفضي إلى الهرب كل شيء يصبح كابوساً ثقيلا , في المستعمرة الكاربية التي أنتجت رالف سنغ الذي يتحدث على لسانه الكاتب بكثير من السخرية والحزن والتخبط عميقة جداً كما هو مكتوب على غلاف الكتاب , نحن لانتسلى حينما نقرأها نحن نقف في عمق البطل ونحلل معه كل الأحداث التي يقد ...more
Ralph Singh, the main character and narrator in the novel, is a 40-year-old colonial minister from a newly independent country in the Caribbean, the island of Isabella. Singh lives in exile in London and is trying to impose order in his life by writing his memoires. He is seeking order, and trying to rewrite his life. He presents different times, places and situations, but is unable to follow a chronological order, thus not achieving the order he seeks. He is a displaced and disillusioned man. T ...more
Dayes Mohammed
بعض الروايات توحي بالغثيان تماما ً كهذه الرواية التي رغم كمية السرد العالية فيها من الحميمية ما يسبب الغضب و القيء و الطمأنينة ، أجمل الكتب ما يجعل تقع في حيرة حوله ، لا تستطيع تحديد شعورك تجاهه ، يجعلك معلقا ً بين الحب و الكراهية ، كل مرحلة قراءة أو كل خطوة من القراءة في هذا الكتاب تهديك صفة ً جديدة ًعن العمل ؛ جميل ، روحاني ، ساذج ، بغيض إلخ إلخ .
بالرغم من هذا كله شعرية الرواية نادرة جدا ً و متعبة أيضا ، ربما على الإنسان أن يكتفي بقراءة صفحة واحدة أو 5 صفحات على الأكثر ، فهي مميتة في النهاية .
Nov 19, 2014 Apphia added it
I'm a commoner trying so hard to finish this book. Is it too early to call VS Naipaul overrated? Does this make me ignorant? Don't get me wrong, I understand the post-colonial social issues highlighted and the theme of displacement and Singh's search for identity etcetera but it just isn't as interesting as I was hoping it would be. I'm forcing myself to enjoy this book and its feeling like a task in itself.

To avoid any biasses I must acknowledge his literary brilliance and his extraordinary use
Spike Gomes
This didn't grab me as hard as Naipaul's other books. The main characters all seemed to be at a remove, especially the narrator. Due to this, it did not grab me as much as other novels of his have, and the beginning and part of the ending set in London are something of a claustrophobic slog to make it through. Still the middle sections and the very end are very much worth it. Also notable is the fact that it seems to be the least bitter of any of his novels I've ever read, even though many of th ...more
Naipaul's prose is always precise, provocative, even from time to time tender, and this early book is no exception. His penetration into human nature and the human condition here reveals that he could be both a humanitarian and misanthropic. He writes, autobiographically, at a time when the two were more in balance and those sparks of deep humanity are welcomed. While his insights into our motivations and behaviour are searingly perceptive, I foung The Mimic Men (of whom his main character, Ralp ...more
Uthpala Dassanayake
This gives a good perception of Caribbean islands’ life and there people’s mentality. Being a nation gone through slavery, imperialism and finally freedom, descendants from slaves, slave masters and migrated Indians becoming a one nation, one country is a confusing affair. Intensely conscious where they belong in the social structure, yet too uncertain as to where to fit in.
The book is presented as a memoir by an Indian descendant gone to live in London. Sometimes reader needs to concentrate so
I would've given this one two and half stars if there was a half star rating option.

This really wasn't the worst book. Just one of the more depressing ones. Naipaul's protagonist is decidedly not good company for more than 80-90% of the book and while I appreciate the alternate perspective of this ambivalent character's experiences, I did not enjoy reading the book. Very good writing, technically. Yet Naipaul's strength in technique is also his weakness here, for he accurately illustrated a ver
So this book has been sitting on my shelf since sometime in college, if I had to guess, since I took the non-western nobel laureates class. I have to say, I didn't love any of the characters in the book, and Naipaul's writing came across as a little bland to me, and there was very little character development. But there were some lines that were just so masterfully written that it was worth all of the other mundane words and interactions in the novel. Maybe if I read it a second time I would get ...more
Jun 14, 2009 Angie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
The first two sections of this book were brilliant and I found myself relating a lot. When it got to the more political side of Naipaul, however, I found myself pretty lost. It was probably a bad introduction to Naipaul on the whole, despite the fact that 2/3 of the book left me laughing and crying alongside with the main character.

On the other hand, it's an amazing feeling to read a book that goes over your head, especially if you're a pretty extensive and avid reader.
Bartlett Morgan
As the modern literary canon goes, V.S. Naipaul has not known many equals. I wish I could talk about the book itself but the real impression I was left with was of the writer himself. This book confirmed for me what I've seen of him in some of his other books I've read. Whenever I read his books I'm always left in awe of his all-encompassing, almost rapacious approach to representing his subjects objectively. As they really are.

This book is due a second reading for sure.
May 04, 2013 Monica added it
Dear Mr. Naipaul,
I am truly sorry I didn't like this book. It started well, even if the world in it was weird and seemed without any core. Somewhere close to the middle, it started to peak like a furious tall wave. Then, the wave never crashes, so it can start all over again. In the end politics came in force. And I hate anything related to politics. I am not interested in politicians "sufferings", or hurdles, or inner conflicts. At all.
This book was a real chore for me. I just couldn't get into the main character, who was basically writing his autobiography. It was well-written, but it didn't draw me in at all, didn't grab my interest. It's unfortunate, as I've previously read A Home for Mr Biswas and enjoyed that more. I don't know what else to say, but that it was disappointing. However, I'm sure others might like it. Just not for me.
Sabina Chen
Naipaul's book that resonated most with me. I was drawn to its post-colonialist immigrant story, the idea of finding home in transient spaces, such as hotels and airports, and trying to fit into various communities, "mimicking" his various selves in order to survive in various contexts. It's about survival, though the narrator never finds home.
Dense. Dense. Dense and dense some more. The book is like molasses- slow and beyond boring. I could not connect with any of the characters, I felt the descriptions and story was overwritten and overdone. It was just too much, as if Naipaul was trying hard. Now I have a very big aversion to this book. Overwritten and Dense.
This book is not an easy breezy read. Other reviews have described it as dense, and I would not disagree with that assessment.

If you are interested in writing and literature, its worth the effort. I found it took me some time to settle in, but by the end I quite liked this book.
I learned a lot about what it means to be a stranger and the life on the former colonies from the Carribean. I didn't like the style of this writer. It was like always waiting for the naration to burst but the waiting was in vane.
My copy of this book is in romanian.
Nojood Alsudairi
كم أرهقتني الترجمة
كتاب مليء بالرموز التي استوقفتني كثيرا في محاولة لفهم عميق لما يقصد
بالرغم من خجل الشخصية الرئيسية من أبيها إلا أن مسيرة حياته كلها كانت أشبه بإعادة حية لحياة والده ولكن في عالم أحدث وأدوار مختلفة
هل نسير على خطوات آباؤنا دون أن نشعر؟
Well-crafted fiction; couldn't help feeling also (apart from the rigorous dealing with issues of place, identity and displacement) Naipaul built (somewhat, somehow) on sartre's short story The Childhood of a Leader
Ryan Faulkner
dense, overwritten, slightly boring. naipaul has a great concept for a book, and the subtlety is admirable, but a really great book comes with both the subtlety of its implicit messages and a good story to match. fail
This book has unlikeable characters (particularly the protagonist) and a weak plot, but Naipaul's writing style is so stunning I had to give it a 3. I will definitely be reading more Naipaul in the future.
It seemedto have a slow start but as the book progressed the layers were revealed. Very clever, very haunting, and also rather sad.
I enjoyed getting into this book, but switched my attention to another mid-way thru. I may return it. I do love the scenes Naipaul creates.
Maya Jurt
Naipaul at his best. He writes about what he knows, estrangement,the story of the uprooted.
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Naipaul was born and raised in Trinidad, to which his grandfathers had emigrated from India as indentured servants. He is known for the wistfully comic early novels of Trinidad, the bleaker novels of a wider world remade by the passage of peoples, and the vigilant chronicles of his life and travels, all written in characteristic, widely admired, prose.

At 17, he won a Trinidad Government scholarshi
More about V.S. Naipaul...
A House for Mr Biswas A Bend in the River Half a Life Miguel Street In a Free State

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