This has been Naipaul’s most discussed book. Vivek Dhareshwar writes: “Naipaul’s novel details the stereotypical construction of the colonial reality and the equally stereotypical generation of the phantasy and romance of the metropolis.”  Weiwei Xu reads the novel as Naipaul’s attempt to capture the contradictions inherent in metropolitan attitudes that hide its exclusivity:  “Although Naipaul makes transnational migration in the form of hybridity the primary ground for the intermingling of cultures and identities, he does not naively contend that mere coexistence of people of heterogeneous cultural, national, religious or other identity formations in the metropolis guarantees the uptake or expression of cosmopolitan openness.”  Anthony Boxhill concludes that the book offers a resolution full of hope because: “Ralph Singh finds in himself something constant which permits him to transcend the meaningless flux of his various bastard worlds, and to make real contact with real things around him.” Giosue Ghisalbherti recognises “ his ‘shipwreck’ not as a single event, but as a permanent and always compromised self-understanding.”  Baidik Bhattacharya argues that the novel implies “The uniqueness of a Caribbean situation that, because of its distinctive history of plantation and migration, produces a critique of the modern nation-state system.” Steph Ceraso and Patricia Connolly write: “Naipaul depends heavily on familial relations and heterosexual unions to examine the ways in which the masculine performances of his male protagonists become affirmed, denied, and/or destabilized.”

Asangaeneng and Udoette from Nigeria read the book as an example of postcolonial writing par excellence because it shows that “getting liberated from the colonizer's military grip does not necessarily mean that they are liberated from their political, economic, and cultural interference.”