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by Shani Mootoo

Download Cereus Blooms at Night eBook
ISBN:
1862072493
Author:
Shani Mootoo
Category:
Literary
Language:
English
Publisher:
Granta Books (April 1, 1999)
Pages:
272 pages
EPUB book:
1209 kb
FB2 book:
1564 kb
DJVU:
1780 kb
Other formats
txt lit doc mobi
Rating:
4.7
Votes:
385


In Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo brings to life the fictional Caribbean island of Lantanacamara. A complex, nonlinear plot weaves together various threads in the lives of characters from several generations.

In Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo brings to life the fictional Caribbean island of Lantanacamara. Mootoo explores themes of gender and identity and sexual orientation while also delving into the effects of trauma. The book deals with some dark subjects- incest, abuse, rape- but ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.

Cereus blooms at night. Cereus blooms at night.

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From the author of Cereus Blooms at Night and Valmiki’s Daughter, both nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, comes a haunting and courageous new novel. Jonathan Lewis-Adey was nine when his parents, who were raising him in a tree-lined Toronto neighbourhood, separated and his mother, Sid, vanished from his life. It was not until he was a grown man, and a promising writer with two books to his name, that Jonathan finally reconnected with his beloved parent-only to find, to his shock and dismay, that the woman he’d known as Sid had morphed into an elegant, courtly man named Sydney.

Cereus Blooms at Night (1996) is the first novel published by film-maker, artist, and writer Shani Mootoo. The novel recounts the story of an old lady named Mala Ramchandin through the narrative of Tyler, a nurse at Paradise Alms House. Although the setting of the novel (the town of Paradise in the country Lantanacamara) is deliberately left ambiguous, it is thought to be patterned after the island of Trinidad, where Mootoo lived as a child

There is much to admire about Shani Mootoo's first novel, Cereus Blooms at Night.

There is much to admire about Shani Mootoo's first novel, Cereus Blooms at Night. A magical and evocative book. com User, November 23, 2004. I think I must have read this book about 3 times and each time it weaves a magical web in my mind that takes days to clear. Ms Mootoo manages to take the minutae of life in a time gone by and make them real. Perhaps the book resonates with my own past a bit or perhaps it is just one hell of a well written book.

cereus blooms at night shani mootoo book quote literature quotes like lightning bolts Abi reads Cereus .

cereus blooms at night shani mootoo book quote literature quotes like lightning bolts Abi reads Cereus Blooms at Night. By presenting lesbian identity in exterior space, Mootoo’s work subverts the normal private-public dichotomy in which sexuality (and homosexuality in particular) is relegated to the former. The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, declared Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to justify the 1969 amendment that legalized sexual acts between two consenting adults in private over the age of 21 (1982:226).

In Cereus Blooms by Night Shani Mootoo leads us gently into the heart and mind of old Mala Ramchandin as, lying mad in a hospital bed tended by gay male nurse Tyler, she recounts her tragic history via a stream of demented ramblings. As the story of her descent into madness unfolds and the bond between the crazy woman and the gay man develops and strengthens, so too does the desire of the reader to understand the sights, sounds, smells and emotions that fashioned the young Mala's destiny.

At the heart of this compelling novel lies a disappearance, and a crime which may have been committed many years before the story opens. When Mala, old and notoriously crazy, arrives at the Paradise Alms House, she is placed in the tender care of Tyler, a gay male nurse, and an extraordinary relationship begins to unfold. Who is Mala Ramchandin, and what lies behind her madness? In telling the many stories of Mala adventurer, protector, recluse and madwoman - we learn the truth about her father, Chandin, the once-favoured child taken in by missionary colonialists; her mother and her white lover, Lavinia Thoroughly; her lost sister, Asha; and the mysterious but kindly visitors Otoh and Ambrose Mohanty. Combining diverse storytelling traditions, Shani Mootoo's luminous writing explores identity, gender and violence in a celebration of our capacity to love, and to survive cruelty and despair.
  • Nargas
In Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo brings to life the fictional Caribbean island of Lantanacamara. A complex, nonlinear plot weaves together various threads in the lives of characters from several generations. Mootoo explores themes of gender and identity and sexual orientation while also delving into the effects of trauma. The book deals with some dark subjects-- incest, abuse, rape-- but ends on a surprisingly hopeful note. The main character shows surprising resilience in the face of tragedy, and the nonlinear plot makes her story more poignant while also focusing on strength, connection, and redemption.
  • Orevise
A voice screams out at you, The momentary embrace of the eyes in a far away camera glance. A dismissal of worth. The total subjugation and repression felt by women of the post-colonial world is not without its listeners. Titsi Dangerembga's "Nervous Conditions"(NC) is the story of a determined young girl who manuevers both patriarchal and Imperial obstacles to obtain an ambigous future. Offering an answer to the question of how a person who is "double colonized"(233pc) can break free from the restraints of both neo-colonial and cultural barriers NC never the less leaves for the reader the issues of western education and the judeo-catholic religion as unresolved mechanisms of future restraints in its character's lives." When Nervous Conditions was published in 1988, it added to the growing corpus of women's writing in Zimbabwe."(debunk1) Explaining the controlling theme of the novel Kwame Appiah writes in the introduction,"while not specifically addressed to a western readership, the problems of racial and gender equity the text raises are not in any way unfamiliar to us."(NCxi)
Both Shani Mootoo's " Cereus Blooms at Midnight"(CBAM) published in 1996 and Arundhati Roy's "God of Small Things"(GOST) published in 1997 explore the theme of characters seeking to define themselves outside the traditional patterns of repression encountered universally by women in post-colonial society. This striking similiarity in the subject and themes of NC,CBAM and GOST makes for an interesting comparison. Ketu Katrak in an essay titled "Decolonizing Culture" warns against judgement,

"One finds(1)little theoretical production of post colonial writers given the serious attention it deserves, or that it is dismissed as not theoretical enough by western standards; (2) the increasing phenomenon of using postcolonial texts as raw material for the theory producers and consumers of Western Academia; (3) theoretical production as an end in itself, confined to the consumption of other theorists who speak the same priveliged language in which obscurity is regularly mistaken for profundity. A near hedgemony is being established in contemporary theory that can with impunity ignore or exclude post-colonial writers essays, interviews and other cultural productions while endlessly discussing concepts of the 'other' of 'difference and so on" (239cr)

It is with this warning against classification that a parallel can be drawn between the three novels and a unity of message defined in the texts.
All three novels place Western education at the forefront of the story. By portraying abuse at the hands of the mimic-man (Bahbi) the contradiction between the value of western knowledge and the system of repression it represents is drawn. The patriarchal figure of Babamakura in NC is reconstituted in the figures of Chandin in CBAM and Papachi in GOST. Placing the mimic-man into a political context Frantz Fanon exhorts his "comrades" in the "Wretched of the Earth", "Let us not lose time in useless lament or sickening mimicry. Let us leave this Europe which never stops talking of man yet massacres him at every one of it's street corners, at every corner in the world."(WE235)
By portraying characters that have broken away from societal norms and found happiness the authors of CBAM and GOST confirm the possibility of an alternative to the cycle of female oppression that NC challenges but does not defeat. Vivian May describes CBAM's interpretation of transcendence by it's characters as,"an alternative epistemology and economy of being that rely upon notions of love and desire which do not uphold the dysfunctional family of empire"(dislocate) By choosing a lifestyle that is outside of the normal structure of social roles for its protagonists Mootoo and Roy have offered an alternative to Dangarembga's vision for hers. In NC Tambudzai explains herself when she says," I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologising for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling."(NC1) With this apology Tambudzai includes the readers in the story emphasising the importance of the subject. Tambudzai goes on to say,"my story is not after all about death, but about my escape and Lucia's: about my mother's and Maiguru's entrapment and about Nyasha's rebellion."(NC1) NC's portrayal of the hoplessness of Tambudzai's mother and her aunt Maiguru are contrasted against the achievements of Tambudzai and Lucia but also tempered by the agony of Nyasha. CBAM also offers its interpretation of how a person can break free from the opression of cultural norms. Mr Tyler, an effeminate man, finds freedom by working in a field where he is the only male, he says,"I was, after all, the only Lantanacamaran man ever to train in the field of nursing."(CBAM6) Being a male in a female dominated career Mr Tyler becomes a symbol for female repression as he struggles to understand his place in society. Otoh, Mr.Tyler's friend and love interest also has found a place outside of the traditional Patriarchal and Imperial confinements of the story. Describing Otoh's change from woman to man Mootoo writes,"The transformation was flawless. Hours of mind-dulling exercises streamlined Ambrosia into an angular, hard-bodied creature and tampered with the flow of whatever hormonal juices defined him."(CBAM110) Alternately in GOST, the twins, Rahel and Estha also offer an idea of how to overcome entrenched societal strictures. Describing Estha's reaction on being reunited with his twin sister Roy writes,"It had been quiet in Estha's head until Rahel came."(GOST16) Explaining the space occupied by Rahel in society Roy comments,"Rahel grew up without a brief...Without anybody who would pay her dowry and therefore without an obligatory husband looming on her horizon."(GOST18) Freed from the patterns of Patriarchal repression Rahel and Estha live outside of the dominant culture,"So as long as she wasnt noisy about it, she remained free to make her own inquiries:...Into life and how it ought to be lived."(GOST18)
In answering the ambiguous ending to Dangarembga's NC Mootoo and Roy have employed the technique of "Magic-Realism" to offer an alternative narrative to overcoming the repression of "double colonization".Vivian May explains the use of supernatural events among post-colonial writers,"They see an imaginary space as offering opportunities to remember identities and histories differently."(dislocate) Using magical and unreal events CBAM and GOST allow the reader to imagine a different reality, one that transcends normality and gives the reader the confidence to embrace a future that is optomistic and hopeful. Bahbi in his forward to "The Wretched of the Earth" says of the idea of using fantastical imagery and situations,"It is Fanon's great contribution to our understanding of ethical judgement and political experience to insistently frame his reflections on violence, de-colonization, national consciousness, and humanism in terms of the psycho-affective realm--the body, dreams, psychic inversions and displacement , phantasmatic political identifications."(WExix) Answering NC with the use of psycho-affectivity both CBAM and GOST draw from the teachings of Fanon in an attempt at,"an engagement with(or resistance to) a given reality..."(WExix)
Foremost of the themes of psycho-affectivity and magic realism used in CBAM is the setting of the story on the mythical island of Lantanamacara. By setting the story in a place that is not part of the known reality of the reader Mootoo provides the necessary backdrop for an escape from the accepted patterns of repression and control. Another more subtle note of magic realism occurs in the character of Otto. Born as a woman but living life as a man, his feminine qualities are supressed along with the memory of the community of his early years of life as a female."So flawless was the transformation that even the nurse and doctor who attended the birth, on seeing him later, marvelled at their carelessness in having declared him a girl.(CBAM110) The inability of the people of Lantanamacara to remember that Otoh had originally been a female is one of several premises that would be hard to accept outside of a world colored by psycho-affectivity.
GOST also offers its own magic realism in the setting of the abandoned home of Kari Saipu. Populated by the ghost of a white man who has "gone native" Roy compares the ghost to William Conrad's Kurtz in "The Heart of Darkness". Later the house becomes the reason for the death of Sophie Mol in her attempt to cross the river as well as the scene of Velutha's savage beating at the hands of the police. Explaining the place of the house in the story Roy writes,"Nobody went to Kari Saipu's house anymore. Vellya Paapen claimed to be the last human being to set eyes on it. He asaid that it was haunted. He had told the twins the story of his encounter with Kari Saipu's ghost."(GOS189) Including the supernatural within the story GOST also engages the reader to think beyond the known and consider situations and outcomes outside of the normal human experience.
Answering the questions left by NC, CBAM and GOST offer an avenue of understanding to how women can break free from oppression. Using the themes of magic realism, gender variance and love without restrictions Mootoo and Roy have provided an alternate vision to the issues brooched by NC. By depicting characters of ambigous sexual orientation Mootoo enlarges the scope of oppression by voicing the concerns of those outside of traditional sexual relationships. Roy, in her investigation into the "Love Laws" comments that they control,"Who should be loved, and how. And how much."(GOST33) Offering another interpretation of how women are repressed in the control of their ability to love, GOST answers to NC with an additional aspect of female repression. Apparent in both the novel CBAM and GOST is the portrayal of relationships that are anathema to the judeo-christian tradition. Characters who have chosen relationships in direct opposition to religious dogma and found happiness is a direct refutation of a third oppressive structure that is unaddressed in NC.
  • Malahelm
Absolutely incredible, eve opening book. I reccomend to anyone struggling with identity or simply looking for a good read. This novel is interesting from cover to cover and kept me wanting more even when it was over. One of my new favorite novels.
  • Zepavitta
This book will always be lodged somewhere in my brain... haunting me. Good read, but some parts are very disturbing. I think that means that the author did a good job. It's very sad though.
  • Usic
Excellent product and price
  • Wetiwavas
Not my favorite, but great for studying patriarchy and sexuality in the Caribbean.
  • Fesho
Read it for school. There are disturbing family events, but its a good read. Definitely makes you think about things and be thankful for what you have.
This is a breathtaking story with chilling ethical and moral challenges that haunted me beyond the reading of the book.