An Indo-Trinidadian-Canadian author, Mootoo sets her novel in the fictional island Lantanacamara—a kind of stand-in for Trinidad but also an imaginary, magical place. It is through the friendship of Tyler, one of Lantacamara’s many butterflies, that Miss Ramchandin can finally tell her story. Mistaking him for Ambrose, Mala dances with him and then takes him inside to show him the long-decaying body of her father. Open Preview See a Problem? The backstory of the novel is a rich and fruitful tale that fleshes out the horrible past of Mala Ramchadin. I accept that this topic needs to be discussed, even in graphic detail, so that survivors have resources and the subject becomes less taboo, but I worry that feminist authors too often resort to using rape as a plot point.

Our narrator is the precocious nurse Tyler, a fighting spirit of a feminine man or a trans woman? She is heavily sedated and kept under physical constraint. Although the story was both compelling and harrowing, and Mootoo’s prose was very fine, the odd structure and some passages that lagged kept this from being a 5 star read for me. I liked this book a lot, though it had numerous flaws that frustrated me. And, then, of course there is that blocked off room where the body lies The writing lives up to the sensuality of the title; remarkably, the tone of the writing conveys the humid lushness of the subtropical island perhaps even more effectively than the literal descriptions of its sights, sounds and smells. This novel is entirely set in the Caribbean Trinidad, I assume. Not so in this case.

I wish I had finished it before the BTT question last week about obscenity in literature because it makes a good argument for when explicit scenes are needed in a book to tell a story. These chapters are told in the third person, past tense, from the perspective of a narrator with limited omniscience.

Cereus Blooms at Night

The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Go I am sort of at a loss for how to write this review. I only wish I had found it at A framing device of the gentle development of a relationship jight a gay male nurse and the transgender son of the failed suitor makes it all a bight more palatable, as does vivid and at times rhapsodic description of the natural world.

I think this is very obviously a first novel, in that, like the tropical setting, it is almost too brimming with all sorts of themes and ideas – about gender roles and non-conformity, and blloms, and religiosity, and the cruelty of conformist communities, and humans in the natural world, and the dream-splitting of the self to cope with the intolerable, and the evanescent flowering of passion the titleand more.


Shani A wastes no words in Cereus Blooms at Night. What is ultimately tragic about the violence enacted by some is that it is the result of having cerwus violated and exploited themselves. Back in the present day at the nursing home, Mala is visited by Ambrose, who is now elderly and has a grown-up son of his own named Otoh. I decided to let the reading of this novel percolate a bit before writing a few comments. They are left awaiting more news from Asha, or maybe even a visit, and the promise of the sweet and fortifying blossoming of the cereus.

Cereus Blooms at Night – Wikipedia

Mootoo uses a variety of devices: She unlocks the doors and lead the police down to her father’s body. One pkot my favorite moments is the connection to nature and this book fills me with so much love!

In the meantime, Lavinia had returned to Paradise with the news that she had broken off her engagement. As the characters wait for the cereus plant to blossom, Tyler and Otoh confirm their love for one another, and Ambrose and Mala find a new sort of peace.

Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo

Open Preview See a Problem? Not even Yankees talk like that.

It just always makes me feel good to see queer characters in a Caribbean setting. We learn of the up- and downsides of cereuz in Paradise, a place where the Reverend Thoroughly and his wife come with promises of a better life for Indian immigrants who convert to Christianity.

Lists with This Book.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian. He begins the book as the narrator The lovely title could have been replaced by something like Cockroaches in Paradise, which would have fit the theme of violent incest that emerges as the centre of the mystery that unravels. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Mootoo even hints we might jump species — become a bird, say — if we really put our minds to it.

A gay male nurse named Tyler on a fictional Caribbean island probably inspired by Trinidad begins caring for a silent old woman named Mala Ramchandin at a charitable home for the aged.


Ramchandin opening up to each other was just lovely. The novel begins with Mala’s admission to the Paradise Alms House, where Tyler has just recently started to work as the only male nurse in residence. Which, by the wa Here’s the thing about Cereus Blooms at Night: As a reader, I was constantly attempting to negotiate time, space, and nar Cereus Blooms at Night is a novel bursting at the seams.

Despite the heavy topics, the book is a pretty fast read, and not really a downer.

Jan 21, Kamil rated it it was amazing Shelves: There is redemption in the end, but the characters in the drama are forever scarred but left boldly enjoying what little they have left of their flawed lives. Set on a fictional Caribbean island in the town of Paradise, Cereus Blooms at Night unveils the mystery surrounding Mala Ramchandin and the tempestuous history of her family. Tyler was delighted to be given the opportunity and responsibility and treated his patient with the summarj compassion he might have offered any patient given the chance.

See the rest of my review on my website: The social points are stated kind of obviously though they are themselves sensitive and perceptive points. Cereus Blooms at Night beautifully imagines a world where this kind of redemption is possible. Kimmi Ramnine rated it it was amazing Shelves: The dialogue was great too, very true to life Cereus is not an easy book to read nor should it be, summxry the subject matterbut it is never without hope and life and light.

Like many books on that list, this one is Canadian-ish, in that Mootoo was born in Ireland, grew up in Trinidad and at the time of publication was dividing her time between Canada Vancouver and the States.

The night after the police arrive, Otoh decides to burn down Mala’s house, destroying all evidence of her father’s death, and leaving a dark cloud over all of Paradise.