Pros:Brilliant, traumatic portrayal of Colonized people/ and their attempts to escape from the past
The Bottom Line: VS Naipaul exactly at what Ralph the protagonist of The Mimic Men fails. This is an account of historical legacy of colonialism, political and psychological effects on the colonized.
The Mimic Men is the memoir of protagonist Ralph Singh. Set in a cheap boarding house in London, it is a retrospective, often crisscrossing account of Singh's life, whose grand father is of east Asian origin, migrated to a fictional West Indian island of Isabella. Ralph is typical character displaced by Colonialism, while being sensitive, intelligent and confused by unequal colonial society of masters and slaves, continually searching for his identity.
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Ralph continually tries to escape from his immigrant history, set in Isabella while living in a western society, to neither of which he feels connected.
The book itself starts of with the account of Ralph's life and people around him in London and quickly moves on to things like politics in Isabella and his role in it, about faceless politicians, borrowed phrases and then to his traumatic university days in London, to his childhood on Isabella, his marriage and treatment of his wife and so on.
To summarize, The Mimic Men is a pessimistic portrayal of legacy of Colonialism. VS Naipaul is well known for his misanthropic, pessimistic view of the world. This is exactly what Ralph Sing portrays. In the end, this novel is an acceptance of absurdity of hopeless mimicry of colonized peoples, of their master and futile attempts to fit-in into the master's society.
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