Cereus Blooms at Night

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 At the heart of this bold and seductive novel is an alleged crime committed many years before the story opens Mala is the reclusive old woman suspected of murder who is delivered to the Paradise AlmsSet 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 At the heart of this bold and seductive novel is an alleged crime committed many years before the story opens Mala is the reclusive old woman suspected of murder who is delivered to the Paradise Alms House after a judge finds her unfit to stand trial When she arrives at her new home, frail and mute, she is placed in the tender care of Tyler, a vivacious male nurse, who becomes her unlikely confidante and the storyteller of Mala s extraordinary life.In luminous, sensual prose, internationally acclaimed writer Shani Mootoo combines diverse storytelling traditions to explore identity, gender, and violence in a celebration of our capacity to love.
Cereus Blooms at Night 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 At the heart of this bold

  • Title: Cereus Blooms at Night
  • Author: Shani Mootoo
  • ISBN: 9780380731992
  • Page: 363
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “Cereus Blooms at Night”

    1. Cereus Blooms at Night is one of the most powerful and thought provoking books I've read this year. 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.Shani Mootoo wastes no words in Cereus Blooms at Night. Everything has a meaning and often more than one. The cereus of the title both refer to the cactus that grows in Mala's yard and to Mala's brief moment of true [...]

    2. Cereus Blooms at Night is the partially told story of one woman’s life, beginning when she is admitted to an alms house, suspected of having murdered her father and slowly unravelling back to the turning points, the highs and lows which brought her to be in the state she is in on arrival.It is a novel narrated in parts, each part focusing on a character(s) who were influential in her life, including the young man who never knew her until this day, the one who became her confidant, perhaps the [...]

    3. I read this book for a class entitled "Literature of the Asian Diaspora." It was under the auspices that I read and analyzed the text.Cereus Blooms At Night is a story of the visceral experience (and present condition) of Mala Ramchandin. The setting is a fictional island called Paradise located somewhere in the Caribbean. As Nurse Tyler cares for Mala Ramchandin, her condition is viewed as insanity as she merely interacts with insects and audibly speaks to herself. The backstory of the novel is [...]

    4. Here's the thing about Cereus Blooms at Night: it is almost achingly transparently a first novel. Metaphors of all kinds announce themselves again and again and again. The social points are stated kind of obviously (though they are themselves sensitive and perceptive points). The plot, although amorphous, is firmly rooted in one event - but that event is not firmly rooted in anything; rather it happens because it needs to happen in order to allow the rest of the book to happen. (Which, by the wa [...]

    5. I grew up in Trinidad, so it's clear to me that Shani Mootoo is using Trinidad as the basis of her setting of Lantanacamara. Although I wondered initially why she fictionalized the setting, after reading the book I realized that it might be an effort to keep people from assuming that "this is what life is like in Trinidad" -- so hey, good choice there, Shani Mootoo.But even more than her visceral evocation of the West Indies, Mootoo is notable as a writer who is not afraid to delve into the dirt [...]

    6. I am having an eminently hard time trying to marshal my thoughts on this book into something coherent for the written word. It did not leave me with an obvious reason for liking it, at least not one that I can articulate with a specific set of words. Despite it's less than palatable story matter, this is a beautiful tale. The author has a deft touch with words and description. Rather than being upset by the story or angry at ineffective characters, I ended the book with a hopeful though sad feel [...]

    7. arghhhh I don't even know where to begin. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. It's the most depressing book I've ever read but omg the diction that is used in this book is soo beautiful :')

    8. Most well-written, without being over-written, and enjoyable-but-challenging book I've read in a long time: "When Pohpoh unlatched the window above the enamel sink, yellow light sliced through the opening, hauling in a cold, fresh morning draught." A unique fictional perspective, uniquely and beautifully expressed.

    9. A few months ago when I reviewed Shani Mootoo’s most recent novel, Valmiki’s Daughter, I prefaced the review with an admission that I already loved Mootoo’s writing before I even started the book. It was her first novel, Cereus Blooms at Night (1996), that instigated this love. The worth of something as rich as Cereus would be hard to overestimate. I’ve honestly never read anything that had such a strong sensory effect on me: the lilting rhythm of the language, the bittersweetness of the [...]

    10. This is a beautiful story about tough subject matter. It covers a lot of subject matter about sexuality, abuse, mental health, and ultimately love. The story starts out with an elderly woman being brought to a care home and everyone is afraid of her. Through her flashbacks to the past we find out more about her life, and the events that brought her to where she is. It takes place in a fictional country in the Caribbean, but really the story could have taken place anywhere. This book is on the CB [...]

    11. 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. Even though a short novel, it could have been pruned even more. But it's nice that in a book with only a dozen or so characters, there are two lesbians, a gay man and a FTM transgender character.

    12. In Shani Mootoo’s novel “everyone wants to be someone they are not” – just like the unassuming Cereas flowers that bloom at night into something phenomenal. Thus all the character’s have alter ego’s – Mala has her child personality Pohpoh, Otoh was once a girl and is now becoming a man but not quite, narrator Tyler discovers that he is gay and likes to cross-dress, Ambrose goes from a sleepy man to an energetic force after he is released from his guilt. The tale of incest, child ab [...]

    13. I decided to let the reading of this novel percolate a bit before writing a few comments. Sometimes my initial impressions improve after thinking a bit more about a book. Not so in this case. Part 1 of the book is very engaging, mostly because of the character Tyler who despite trying hard not to interject himself into the novel, keeps doing exactly that. The main character, Mala, is a very distant character. Because of her mental state, she communicates very subtlety with Tyler, not directly wi [...]

    14. A sensory experience. I really loved the setting, in the Trinidad-like Caribbean island of Lantanacamara in the town of Paradise. The smells and tastes, plants and bugs, form an important backdrop, but also important thematic material. Blossoming and decay each take their turn. Fluid gender/sexuality, as well as sexual violence, trauma, love, and insanity all have a role here. Despite the heavy topics, the book is a pretty fast read, and not really a downer. The plot is simple and perfect, the c [...]

    15. this book fills me with so much love! the narrative structure definitely reminds me of Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. The language in this novel is very beautiful but with a very painful story attached. We follow the main character Mala as we get to know her childhood and how she ended up where she is in the beginning of the novel. The book discusses religion, sexual abuse, nature, love, trauma, family, sexuality, gender, etc. One of my favorite moments is the connection to nature and [...]

    16. I am sort of at a loss for how to write this review. I wanted to like Cereus Blooms at Night, but I found it curiously weightless. I can see what it's striving for, but as far as I'm concerned, it never comes near to reaching it. It's hard to put your finger on what exactly is missing, but it feels like it's ticking a lot of the literature checkboxes, without ever doing anything more to become a living breathing urgent tale.Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in p [...]

    17. Cereus Blooms at Night is essentially a fairytale about coping with trauma. The trauma of lost love, rape, colonialism, forced assimilation, mental illness, self mutilation, and homophobia. Which is to say, this is a very graphically violent, very hard to read book. But in all the darkness there's some hope in the form of magic, witches, and the healing powers of nature, as an antidote to white christian colonial patriarchy. I thought the writing was amazing and I also think this book would make [...]

    18. This book made me angry. Characters saw the tragedy occuring in their town but none of them did anything until it was too late, including the main character, Mala. Asha was the only sensible person in the whole book. But, I think that is what the book is about, closing ones eyes to hurt (abuse, racism, colonialism), doing nothing about it and the consequences.The story was interesting and powerful. I loved the imagery. (The whole reason I picked up this book was because I have night-blooming cer [...]

    19. What a book! There is just so much in there I don't know where to begin. I LOVED all the queer characters. Utterly refreshing to see so many characters in one book who challenge heteronormativity. It was just really difficult to read because it is so tragic, traumatizing, and sad. But sometimes life can be those things and Shani Mootoo has represented them adeptly.

    20. Words cannot begin to describe how touched, heartbroken and healed this book leaves me each time I've read and re-read it. I only wish I had found it at 14. I grew up yearning for books that spoke of real horrors, real love and real Caribbean magics like this one.

    21. I liked this book a lot, though it had numerous flaws that frustrated me.I'll start with the good. I loved the cast of main characters, all strong and vivid in their own way. It just always makes me feel good to see queer characters in a Caribbean setting. (And fictional island or no, this is a very Caribbean novel; Lantanacamara is clearing based on Trinidad.) I really loved Tyler, I think he was the perfect character to tell Ms. Ramchandin's story. I loved his gentleness, his caring nature, hi [...]

    22. This multiple award nominee from the mid-1990s was not familiar to me until I found it on the "100 Novels That Make You Proud to be Canadian" CBC list. 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. This novel is entirely set in the Caribbean (Trinidad, I assume). However, the original publisher was Canadian (Press Gang Publications). Th [...]

    23. 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. The first chapter draws you in and the later ones may gradually make you wish it hadn't.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. He begins the book as the narrator [...]

    24. i loved this book so much. it was the most holding, encompassing, gently written and absolutely teeming story, that was loving with its characters through an incredibly difficult situation. something that f's me up with a lot of books about sexual assault is how dangerously they write about it. i can't read writing that retraumatizes me, and i can't read writing that isn't careful and compassionate towards the readership as well. people like lidia yuknovitch are prime! examples of writers who w [...]

    25. There are a lot of contemporary and modern ideas in this book. It was interesting to read about gay and transgender characters which I do not come across in books as awesome. I also liked the incorporation of a different culture; present in the way the characters speak, the food they eat, and other cultural behaviour and practices.With that said though, I found the story-line rather weak. Like I severely doubt that one's feelings can survive decades; although this flaw is more commonly seen in r [...]

    26. I appreciated the Caribbean vibe, but may we please have a book where the central plotline does not involve rape and incest? So tired of violence against women as entertainment.The characters: Mala and Asha, and their associates and kin set us up for a wonderful postcolonial whodunitd then the lazy and inexplicably misogynistic turn toward the rape/incest plotline. Really? So disappointed, especially since I explicitly chose it for its Caribbean author. Oh well

    27. I'm not sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand it's very engaging: its content is unique and the imagery is beautiful. Unfortunately, however, I can't say the writing is that good. That - along with an ocean of plot holes - made this read average at best. I really did enjoy this book, though. I recommend it to those who can stomach its tough subject matter.

    28. Some parts were beautiful, others deeply sad and disturbing. I have mixed feelings about such stories - not hard to read per se (there were times that it kept me moving forward with quite a bit of momentum), but some hard subject matter. I wish I could smell the cereus as it wafts its siren scent into the night. And I hope they find Asha.

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