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First edition cover
|Author||V. S. Naipaul|
|Language||English, Trinidadian Creole|
Miguel Street is a collection of linked short stories by V. S. Naipaul set in wartime Trinidad and Tobago. The stories draw on the author's childhood memories of Port of Spain. The street of the title appears to be a fictionalised version of Luis Street where the author lived with his family in the 1940s. As well as writing about the Hindu community to which he belongs, Naipaul references black culture including a number of calypso lyrics which relate to the themes of the book.
The stories tend each to focus on a single character living on Miguel Street. As the various characters reappear in different stories, which all share the same boy narrator, the book can be seen as a type of novel.
The main characters include Bogart (named after Humphrey Bogart), Hat, George, Elias, an assiduous boy, Man-man, Eddoes, a junk king, Mrs. Hereira, Uncle Bhakcu, Bolo, and Edward. Some of the characters, such as Mr. Popo, the carpenter (who never finishes making anything) and the poet B. Wordsworth (who is working on the greatest poem ever written but has never written past the first line) appear to be affected by a kind of paralysis. The narrator however escapes from Miguel Street at the end of the book.
Background to the book's publication
The publisher André Deutsch hesitated over publishing short stories by an unknown Trinidadian writer, as Naipaul then was. Deutsch thought a novel would have more success, and encouraged Naipaul to write one. Deutsch published Miguel Street after Naipaul's first two novels, The Mystic Masseur and The Suffrage of Elvira, which appeared in 1957 and 1958 respectively.
Miguel Street won the 1961 Somerset Maugham Award. The New York Times said about Miguel Street, "The sketches are written lightly, so that tragedy is understated and comedy is overstated, yet the ring of truth always prevails."
Naipaul returned to linked short stories with In a Free State.
- Thieme, John, Calypso allusions in Naipaul's Miguel Street, Kunapipi, 3(2), 1981. Available at:http://ro.uow.edu.au/kunapipi/vol3/iss2/5
- Gillian Dooley (2006). V.S. Naipaul, man and writer. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 16. ISBN 1-57003-587-3.
- French, Patrick (2008), The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul, New York: Alfred Knopf, ISBN 978-0-307-27035-1
- Poore, Charles (May 5, 1960) "Miguel Street." New York Times. (Retrieved 6-20-2014.)