This will be our second series of CaribbeanTales Audio Books. Last years imprints, which are selling well in schools, are The Swinging Bridge by Ramabai Espinet, Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson,Gardening In The Tropics by Olive Senior, This Body by Tessa McWatt, and My Mother’s Last Dance by Honor Ford Smith.
Shani Mootoo is at the forefront of modern Canadian Literature. As well as being my (almost) contemporary, she is also my countrywoman, (from Trinidad). I am very proud of her.
I remember feeling awe a few years back while reading her first novel “Cereus Blooms at Night”. The story and characters are so richly imagined and vivid. The thought crossed my mind: “This extraordinary breadth of vision was developing in a young person, a young GIRL of roughly my age, somewhere in Trinidad, while I was growing up.”
Why was I suprprised?
It came from the sense I had as a child, and particularly as a girl, of the imaginative limits that were placed on us by our environment: school, family, society. Every sort of prejudice hung heavy even in the air we breathed.
Not just that but writers like Naipaul were busy saying our environment was a literary and cultural wasteland, that nothing fertile ever grew there.
Shani’s two novels face off every sort of colonial prejudice, not in an aggressive way, but simply by being larger, more imaginatively inclusive of all things human. Her stories teem with life, her characters embody complex (some might say transgressive) social, sexual, and racial realities, woven into a unique and breathtaking vision.
“There is more between heaven and earth, Vido, than was dreamt of in your philosophy!”
(Photo – Sir Vidia Naipaul: Limited imagination.)