Perhaps it has to do with my love of Truman Capote’s “Other rooms, other voices”, or with all these childhood’s humid stories of climbing overgrowth and omnipresent critters that so often fall under southern gothic that I get an extra kick whenever I encounter isolated children living among animals in dense flora in the novels I read. Give me that set-up, and I’ll love the book to death. Shani Mootoo’s novel and I were an instant match, but I would recommend this novel even if you have less feverish feelings about vines, crickets and clammy air. While decidedly Caribbean gothic, the novel is also independently apt in talking about gender, identity and violence.
At the center of the story are Tyler and Mala, who embark on an unlikely friendship in the nursing home on a fictional island, where Tyler works and Mala is a patient. Ostracized for his sexuality, Tyler is drawn to the mute, mysterious Mala, who is deemed by the others at the home to be a “crazy murderer”. Through this friendship, Tyler gets to know the tangled story of Mala’s life, and decides to share it with the readers.
Cereus blooms at night by Shani Mootoo
Published by Grove Press in 2009
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