The Mimic Men
By V. S. Naipaul
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375707179, 304pp.)
Publication Date: August 14, 2001
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A profound novel of cultural displacement, The Mimic Men masterfully evokes a colonial man’s experience in a postcolonial world.
Born of Indian heritage and raised on a British-dependent Caribbean island, Ralph Singh has retired to suburban London, writing his memoirs as a means to impose order on a chaotic existence. His memories lead him to recognize the paradox of his childhood during which he secretly fantasized about a heroic India, yet changed his name from Ranjit Kripalsingh. As he assesses his short-lived marriage to an ostentatious white woman, Singh realizes what has kept him from becoming a proper Englishman. But it is the return home and his subsequent immersion in the roiling political atmosphere of a newly self-governed nation that ultimately provide Singh with the necessary insight to discover the crux of his disillusionment.
“A Tolstoyan spirit.... The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist.”–John Updike, The New Yorker
“Ambitious and successful.”–The Times (London)