Miguel Street, V. S. Naipaul’s first written work of fiction, is set in a derelict corner of Port of Spain, Trinidad, during World War Two and is narrated by an unnamed, precociously observant neighbourhood boy. We are introduced to a galaxy of characters, from Popo the carpenter, who neglects his livelihood to build ‘the wild thing without a name’, to Man-man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion, and the dreaded Big-Foot, the bully with glass tear ducts. As well as the lovely Mrs Hereira, in thrall to her monstrous husband.
V. S. Naipaul writes with prescient wisdom and crackling wit about the lives and legends that make up Miguel Street: a living theatre, a world in microcosm, a cacophony of sights, sounds and smells – all seen through the eyes of a fatherless boy. The language, the idioms and the observations are priceless and timeless and Miguel Street overflows with life on every page. This is an astonishing novel about hope, despair, poverty and laughter; and an enchanting and exuberant tribute to V. S. Naipaul’s childhood home.
Naipaul's travel writing is perhaps the most important body of work of its kind in the second half of the century.