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Miguel Street

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,925 ratings  ·  427 reviews
"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 ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published July 23rd 2002 by Vintage (first published June 1st 1959)
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Mama In most developing societies the desire to move to greener pastures dominates the ambitions of people.

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Jim Fonseca
This book is not really a novel; it’s a collection of interrelated vignettes or short stories about a dozen or so men in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad during WW II. It’s a short book so each story is 5 to 7 pages or so. The author grew up nearby.


There is humor but these are not pretty stories. Just about all the men beat their wives and children. That is accepted and even expected. There is an exception: one large woman regularly beats her husband. When an ill woman dies, the neighbors blame it on he
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
How beautiful this book is! How simple! How charming!

The Caribbean street filled with lowlifes, with dreamers, with quirky, street-smart or naive characters literally comes to life in Naipaul's beautiful, beautiful prose. It is a panoramic narration - we are introduced to people one by one, a chapter at a time, and by the time we are done reading, we have lived a different, distant life with them. What makes it compulsively readable is not some cheap excuse for a plot but a deep faith in charact
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
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. Man-man was mad; George was stupid; Big Foot was a bully; Hat was an adventurer; Popo was a philosopher; and Morgan was our comedian.

You want a book that is earnest and enjoyable with the pace being right quick, quick? - well you came to right place. This be a collection of vignettes through
This was a really enjoyable read.

It is not really a novel, more a series of interconnected vignettes, each a small character study of a person or event in the neighbourhood of Miguel Street - in a poor area of Port of Spain in Trinidad. The book is written in some nice subtle use of vernacular - almost patois, not at all challenging or distracting, but for me it really added to the great descriptive writing.
"I know something wrong. Something happen to he."
"You sure this baby for you, and not no
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's unique--and unique in Naipaul's work, of which I've read a dozen, my favorites including House for Mr Biswas, The Loss of El Dorado, and Among the Believers. Used to teach Miguel Street in community college Freshman English--maybe fifteen years, often twice a year. It never got old to me. My "teaching" was largely aloudreading, including my class who were fearful of the accent. Once in awhile a student had been to Trinidad, would try to recreate some. One or two got it better than I, who ha ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy, english
A sequence of delightful vignettes that document the sometimes hilarious goings on in Miguel street in Port of Spain, Trinidad. There is a single child narrator for all of the stories that are further interconnected by major characters appearing in several of them. The style is brilliant, and I love the local English patois that most of the inhabitants use.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Naipaul's third novel about a bunch of colorful characters living in a street in Port of Spain. This is unlike any other Naipaul I have read so far. I have read his work backwards starting with his later novels and then moving on to the earlier ones (a small write up by Tarun Tejpal inside the book recommends Miguel Street and The Mystic Masseur for first time readers of Naipaul). Miguel Street is not without its share of misery and darkness but it is mostly a hilarious novel tracing the antics ...more
Johan Garcia
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Miguel Street probably ranks as the most poignant work of art I have ever read, stirring inside of me emotions that no piece of literature has ever had the power of doing. From the narrator's perspective, we are introduced to every character in his vicinity, portraying the diversity and the interaction between them. From banter to jokes, laughs and sorrow, intellectual conversations and heated arguments, this is a community within Trinidad where everything that happens in Miguel Street is nothin ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Let no one fool you into thinking that just because this book is set in the beautiful island of Trinidad, that somehow it will pander to the stereotype of the Caribbean as being an idyllic eco-paradise filled with mirth and tranquillity. In fact, VS Naipaul's utterly bleak and ultra-realistic depiction of war-time pre-independence Trinidad could be summed up as hilariously misanthropic at worst and desperately hopeless at best.

I first read this book when I was around seventeen, back when I was
Reminds me of Cannery Row by Steinbeck. I always love this style of storytelling and the setting was new and familiar to me, so it was a great read. More Naipaul is definitely in the future reading.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like experiencing the pleasure as a child of squishing vibrant finger paints between my fingers and slowly smearing them onto a sheet of white paper. The colors ran together and jumped off of each other and filled the white page with intriguing images. 'Miguel Street' is a masterpiece of character development, colorful imagery, caribbean flavor, and charming story-telling. the short stories are street-smart yet tender, narrated with the wisdom, innocence, and insight of a y ...more
Missy J

My last reading goal for 2018 - to read a book by V. S. Naipaul. I had difficulties deciding which book to read. On the one hand, I wanted to read something set in the Caribbean with a pinch of his Indian background, on the other hand, I wanted the book to not be too long. So I settled for "Miguel Street" - a type of novel, where each chapter is dedicated to one character. Now I'm not a fan of vignettes, because to me the story can feel quite disjointed. Luckily, V. S. Naipaul has several th
Ravi Gangwani
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So this is full and final ... It wins the best book of 2016 title for me beating all the others. A perfect example of why we read books. I mean this was so awesome that I took 20 days to finish this 200 page book. Just to spare it for the next day even when yesterday I was about to finish I left 5 last pages in greed to fill the passage for next day.

If a man want something, and he want it really bad he does get it, but when he get it he doesn't like it.

“A stranger could drive through Miguel St
I read this book for the first time as part of my literature class and I remember loving all the characters. This is one of my favorite V.S. Naipaul's books. I love a book with amazing characters, the kind that stick with you and that is what you get when you read Miguel Street.
Having re-read this book as an adult, specifically as an adult living in Trinidad and Tobago- the country that the book is set, there was something even more special on the second read.
If you are look for an exceptional
3.5 stars.

A while back, I realised that I've read basically nothing set in the Caribbean, and that the few books I *have* read were action and adventure type books written by white authors. So this is a step towards me rectifying that.

This book is essentially a series of short stories, told from the perspective of a young boy growing up on Miguel Street in Port-of-Spain. Each chapter/short story revolves around a different resident of the street - their life, their friendships, their relations

Miguel Street was the third novel published by V S Naipaul, except that it is not really a novel. He wrote this collection of vignettes before he had published any novels, so it makes sense that it is actually composed of short stories about different characters who live on this street in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Through the eyes of a young boy, we experience the life of the street.

I like Naipaul's writing style so I didn't mind reading the book, though there is no plot. I assume he was warming
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: naipaul
A collection of short stories about growing up in Miguel Street in Trinidad. The narrator is being brought up by a single mum and the stories revolve around the different characters living in the street. There are 17 chapters which talk about Bogart, George, B.Wordsworth which I thought the saddest one about a poet and the loss of his wife. Titus Hoyt the teacher who wants recognition to Hat and his antics.

One common thread I did not like was the continual domestic and child abuse as part of th
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
V.S. Naipaul's Miguel Street is one of the author's earlier books set in Trinidad. It is a delightful read, very different from his later works like Bend of the River and The Enigma of Arrival. The book is essentially a set of interconnected short stories, each one concentrating on a separate character on Miguel Street. And, trust me, they are all characters -- and colorful ones at that.

Naipaul has a light touch in these stories, such that reading the book is like eating candy. It makes me want
Around the World Reading Challenge: TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
This was a really interesting and fairly quick read! Less a ~novel~ and more a series of interconnected vignettes, with each chapter profiling a different inhabitant of Miguel Street, all told from the POV of an anonymous male narrator, a boy who grows to a man over the course of the book. It's set during the end of WWII and the profiles are so fascinating and rich and the author really manages to bring the setting and characters to life-
Gabi Coatsworth
I enjoyed this hard-to-categorize book even more than I expected to. It’s a series of interconnected short stories, but the characters in them are clearly based on people the author knew as a boy in Trinidad. The characters are drawn with such a sympathetic eye that one can’t help but like them too. Some of them might be considered feckless in another place and time, but they seem to retain their cheerfulness and optimism even though they’re very poor. A wonderful slice of Trinidadian life in th ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like revisiting my childhood neighborhood and overhearing squabbles between the neighbors and overhearing the young people sharing their dreams for the future that you know would almost never get realized. Naipaul delivered tragicomedy at its finest, yet the book would probably have a very different reception if it was published today, for the violence and abuse that he reports on in these stories.
I asked Mel for a book set in Trinidad and Tobago, and she mentioned she read this one in school. I was to report back to her if it was any good 20 years later.

This slim, little volume is about a street in Port of Spain (the capital of TTO) and the collection of short stories about the interesting characters and happenings on this street. The stories take place over abut 10 years with people moving in and out of the street, but all of them interacting with our main story teller, a boy growing u
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Miguel Street written by V.S. Naipaul is a breathtaking novel about the people. The narrator, whose name is never revealed, recalls his encounters and memories with each one of the people living on Miguel Street. As the novel progresses, the narrator grows up and develops his own identity. V.S. Naipaul provides the reader with an insight of the life in Trinidad and Tobago, the life of the black community and more specifically, the life of a colonized black community. The search for identity, cor ...more
Utkarsh Bansal
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking for novelty in form
Recommended to Utkarsh by: Abir Bazaz
Shelves: short-stories
I am so conflicted right now. Slightly conflicted between whether this a novel or a collection of short stories, because what do you call it when it has no beginning, no middle, but a very definite end? But much, much more conflicted over how I feel about it. It's like I was just taken on a tour of life on a street by a master of making me feel things, but I'm not sure I appreciate these feelings.

Okay, I know I appreciate some of these feelings. There are lines here that just, that just, you kno
Mridula Gupta
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Naipaul brings the slums of Trinidad to life in his semi autobiographical novel, Miguel Street.
We are presented with characters bearing the brunt of a life devoid of money and opportunities.
Naipaul's artistic abilities lie in the fact that he is perfectly capable of bringing a scenario to life in the most authentic way possible. Narrated mostly in the Trinidad dialect, the story portrays the everyday life of a community through the eyes of a curious young narrator trying to play the man. The au
John Naylor
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a challenging book to review
I cannot see any way to review it as a story as it is a collection of short stories with the street as a common theme. I cannot see any way to review it as a collection of short stories as they intertwine so much that they are too linked to be separate.

There are 17 separate chapters (which is closer than to call them individual stories). I would rate probably 8 of these 5 stars, 6 of them 4 stars and 3 of them 3 stars. Overall that works out slightly higher
Sandro Tarkhan-mouravi
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Naipaul's descriptions of Trinidadian life are on par with I.B. Singer's stories of Eastern European Jewry. Which is as good as literature gets.
Filled with humor, humanism and sharp observations, written economically, in a simple but idiosyncratic language, free from delusions and ideological obsessions - an exceptional combination of lightness and intellectuality.
Weekend Reader_
I read this book in one sitting and was reminded of living on a small island with hopes and dreams that didn't always reflect my environment. The narrator lamented on all his friends from Miguel Street, the good and the bad. He talked vividly about the lessons he learned from each person and how the times reflected many of their decisions. The slang, the rhythm of the stories, and of course the names for each other felt relate-able. Memories of island life and the beauty of making do with what y ...more
Aishwarya (Mindscape Reviews!)
Miguel Street is essentially a short novel consisting of interrelated short stories revolving around the people residing in Miguel Street, Trinidad, where the author was based in his early years. The narrative is from a young boy in Miguel Street who observes all the things around him. Along with this, there is a lot of dialogue between characters all the time. Given that the story is based in the wartime period in Trinidad, the dialogue is played out naturally, as the people there would say. Wh ...more
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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

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“Look, boys, it ever strike you that the world not real at all? It ever strike you that we have the only mind in the world and you just thinking up everything else? Like me here, having the only mind in the world, and thinking up you people here, thinking up the war and all the houses and the ships and them in the harbour. That ever cross your mind?” 23 likes
“A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say “Sum!” 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. Mam-man was mad; George was stupid; Big Foot was a bully; hat was an adventurer; Popo was a philosopher; and Morgan was our comedian.” 15 likes
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