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The Mimic Men

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  879 Ratings  ·  60 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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Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The ramp up of Part 1 seems unusually long, though hardly a slog. In it Naipaul’s classic, young, post-colonial island man takes up residence in a shared house in post-war Kensington, a part of London that was once seedy and cheap according to the author. The house is full of Maltese and Italians and various sad alcoholics who fall down a lot. Leini, an Italo-Maltese woman living in the dank basement, gets a party together to attend the baptism of her fatherless child. It’s a sad affair.

The nar
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
"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
Casey (Myshkin) Buell
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nobel-winners
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
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
This book makes you feel small, insignificant, and makes you question the meaning of the almost absurd lives that we all lead in a world transformed by colonialism. As an Asian American, I experienced a mixture of emotions and reactions that are hard to describe. Oh, and reading this book makes you feel so, so alone in this world for some reason...
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Oct 04, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
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.
Aug 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Filipa Calado
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
When I first got this book, I turned to a random page and read a paragraph. To my delight, I chanced on some sentimental, musing passage about the misery of being alone, that was melancholic yet moving, and my expectations for the book rose. Unfortunately, the sample I encountered proved to be very representative, and I quickly tired of the narrator's pathetic and mopey writing style. The benefit? Some parts are so sad they are funny. The novel does explore some deeper worthwhile topics about im ...more
Adelaide Mcginnity
This book is utterly lacking in plot, interesting characters, or anything useful to say about the human condition. What makes it all the more frustrating is that this should be interesting; it's about a businessman turned socialist politician in a newly free Island nation. But instead of getting gripping highlights from his rise and fall from power, Naipaul chooses instead to make his narrator detached and cynical, for "literary effect" or something (it is as if he is actively sabotaging his own ...more
Geetanjali Tara Joshi
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
good work but sounds very stereotype, a young second generation immigrant Indian in the Caribbeans being toyed by the world powers..
Bob Newman
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Life Escapes Me.....I Escape Life

Perhaps colonial rule in much of the world did produce mimic men. They were those who modeled themselves or at least were modeled on patterns produced for others in the "mother country". They grew up divorced from their origins and could look forward to being put down forever as "not quite the real thing" if they tried to assimilate to metropolitan society. The sweep of literature written by V.S. Naipaul, his brother Shiva, and a host of other writers from the We
Elena Tănăsescu
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
" era trecut de unu noaptea, noi inca ne plimbam, dupa nenumarate ceaiuri fierbinti. Asta desi emotia, una pe care nu o mai incercasem pana atunci, ar fi fost suficienta sa-mi dea energie.
Pe acele strazi acele strazi parasite mi s-a facut o declaratie care m-a miscat, desi am incercat sa-i rezist. Beatrice hotarase ca ii eram cel mai bun prieten.
Mi-a explicat semnificatia cuvantului, si mi-era teama ca astepta o invitatie in camaruta mea in forma de carte.
Dar nu; ne-am plimbat
Mauro Kleber
Na verdade 3,5 estrelas. Um relato maravilhosamente bem escrito, um pouco angustiante, não sei se pelo humor britânico ou cinismo do autor, a escrever sobre temas tão próximos a nós, habitantes de republiquetas latino-americanas , prisioneiros de um destino que nos faz sentirmos como eternos e exóticos expatriados quando tentamos fugir de nós mesmos.
Krysta B.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Master of language. But plot? Meh. I gather this was somewhat autobiographical but I just could not sympathize with the protagonist and did not care what happened to him. The story moved too slowly and went...nowhere interesting. What I did appreciate was the dissonance, the not belonging, the awareness of performance in day to day life... and of course, the beautiful language!
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such craft, such care in sentence construction, clever conceits charged with brutal honesty.
Manish Katyal
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredible writer.
Christian Schwoerke
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
I was disgruntled with this novel, frustrated that Naipaul had not made something of his narrator and his story, that all of it appeared to be no more than maundering. I began to wonder, then, if that hadn't been the point: that just as Singh had failed to find himself in the other, more active events of his life, so he had failed also to distinguish himself as anything other than a literary mimic. More on this later...

This is the story of a man of Indian descent (with Aryan aspirations and remn
William Harris
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Minic men critiques the tragic futility of post-colonial political leadership. It's protagonist is a collage of the west indian leaders who took their territories to independence. He is a scholar in England; son of a petit-bourgeoisie (by island standards); marries a white woman; he's the east-indian political alley of a charismatic african. For the contemporary Caribbean leader, it's a reminder that ideas like uniqueness and sovereignty are overrated...even fallacious, corruption is easy and th ...more
A solid novel that's on such uneasy ground (perhaps that's why it tides in and out, refusing to narrate in chronological order). Naipaul has never been one to shy away of strong, pessimistic opinions of what happens to the colonised nations and people after the colonists leave. What is their future, after their exports are all exhausted and exported?

The title suggests a lot. And the novel suggests that it's a bad idea - for the developing world to use the developed world as a model for behaviour
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Mimic Men is the fictional autobiography of Ralph Singh, although I suspect there is a lot of personal narrative from Naipaul's own life within. Ralph is a perpetual outsider - never completely comfortable with his own place in society - and understandably so. He is of Indian descent but born on the forgotten outskirts of colonial Britain. He leaves his home of Isabella, a fictional Caribbean isle likely modeled on Trinidad where Naipaul was himself raised, and goes to study in Britain. He r ...more
Mashael Alamri
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A profound musing on the postcolonial condition of the colonial man. Moving and well written. Granted, it's not a thriller, for those stuck in 'what-happened-nextism mode' (as Rushdie puts it). Those who bemoan its lack of plot should be reading someone like John Grisham or any generic hack. Those who think it has nothing to say about the human condition evidently haven't read it thoroughly. Those who think it's entirely maudlin and like it only for its maudlin expressions, are better off readin ...more
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot to this book. Presented as a memoir, issues of class, race and a colonial past are explored through the eyes of one of Isabella's (a Caribbean Island) most interesting inhabitants: Ralph Singh. The biggest problem with The Mimic Men is its structure. Naipaul jumps from history to history and the book as a whole does not really have a plot or central narrative. This of course is not to say this book is bad - far from it - but I did find myself often lost or thinking 'where is this ...more
Intesar Alemadi
Apr 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: intesar-book
الدمى ..
في. أس. نيبول ..
الهند ..

الرواية حائزة على جائزة نوبل للآداب عام 2001 .. الاسم والجائزة شجعاني على شراء هذا الكتاب .. وليتني ما فعلت .. الرواية تتحدث عن أبناء المستعمرات .. بالتحديد الجزيرة الكاريبية المدعوة إيزابيلا .. التي تقع تحت الاستعمار البريطاني .. القصة أو الرواية سرد لحياة رالف سينغ الذي يعيش في مستعمرة بريطانية فيصبح سياسياً معروفاً .. فيقود إنقلاباً على المستعمرة التي أصبحت حديثاً تتمتع بحكم ذاتي .. ليعود أدراجه إلى منفاه بعد فشل أوهامه السياسية .. إلى لندن .. فيكتب قصة حياته م
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a well-written book. The first 34 pages were the toughest, I felt the story was not going anywhere and I was ready to give up. In addition, prejudice against Naipaul, reading about his opinions in newspapers, and the fact that his books are banned here sort of made me go through the book just to find faults. Though I am really glad I didn't stop reading and finished the whole thing.

The whole atmosphere is sort of bleak, the protagonist, a self-pitying man who is no longer what he used to b
دايس محمد
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 .
Apphia Barton
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
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-text
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
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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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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“The tragedy of power like mine is that there is no way down. There can only be extinction. Dust to dust; rags to rags; fear to fear.” 1 likes
“All landscapes eventually turn to land, the gold of the imagination to the lead of reality” 0 likes
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