Catherine Anderson's Reviews > Miguel Street

Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul
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's review
Feb 22, 2010

really liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Washington & Lee University
Recommended for: anyone!
Read from February 19 to 20, 2010 , read count: 1

In Miguel Street, V. S. Naipaul depicts the intricacies of life in a Trinidad slum. The fact that the novel is formatted as a collection of specific stories about individual characters adds to the notion that the Miguel Street slum is more complicated than an outsider might assume and that each of its residents is a complete individual rather than a mere shadow of a stereotype. Following the narrator as he describes the people he sees on a daily basis in an almost legendary way, the reader is able to get a feel for the complex issues that are important to the residents of Miguel Street, and to learn that living in a slum means a lot more than violence and economic struggles. Naipaul touches on a number of major, overarching issues such as bribery, gossip, pride, language and Americanization, the effects of war, familial relations, and masculinity. Although the novel is relatively short, and thus none of these broad topics can be treated completely, the fact that Naipaul describes each of them within realistic, personal stories gives the reader the opportunity to understand how such issues actually affect everyday people. This novel is educational, entertaining, tragic, comical, and perplexing all at the same time. I would recommend it to any reader; those interested in Trinidad and the complexities of slum life will take a lot away from the novel as a whole, and those completely uninterested in the main setting will certainly see visions from their own lives in some of the eccentric, endearing characters.
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