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V. S. Naipaul: Miguel Street

It’s not really a novel but a series of stories all centred around characters who live in a poor district of Port of Spain in Trinidad. What makes this book successful, as with similar types of book, is that though the characters are ordinary people, there is an aspect of their lives that makes them different, special. B. Wordsworth tells of a man who wants to watch the bees at the house of the narrator. He is a poet, named after the famous Romantic poet. The B. stands for Black (his brother is called White Wordsworth). He tries to sell the narrator’s mother a poem but is unsuccessful. However the young narrator becomes friendly with B. Wordsworth who tells him about the stars and love and poetry. Then, one day he disappears, after admitting that he hadn’t written the poem he had told the narrator about. Mad Man-Man, with his English accent and always running in every election and always getting three votes, Popo, the carpenter, making the thing without a name, and Bolo who didn’t believe the war was over till 1947 are just some of the colourful characters Naipaul introduces us to, which makes this book so very enjoyable.

Publishing history

First published by André Deutsch in 1959