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Valmiki's Daughter

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  210 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In Valmiki's Daughter, Giller Prize finalist and bestselling novelist Shani Mootoo returns to some of the themes she first explored in her breakout book, Cereus Blooms at Night, to offer a hugely entertaining and hypnotically beautiful family saga.The story centers on a wealthy Trinidadian family -- in particular, Valmiki, a renowned doctor and loving, if confused, father; ...more
Hardcover, 408 pages
Published November 15th 2008 by House of Anansi Press (first published November 14th 2008)
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Jul 01, 2012 Chaitali rated it really liked it
My first ever Indo-Carribean read and it did not disappoint me at all. Valmiki's daughter is beautiful father daughter family saga and the competing pulls of race, class, and sexuality.

The author walks you through beautiful parts of Trinidad and descriptions are so real that you almost drift to those places though her descriptions.

The story has loads of potential and the author has done a good job in exploring and showing struggle of a person to come terms with one's sexuality. As a man Dr. Val
I was overly excited to read this book. I have a friend at work who is from Trinidad and Tobago. We hear all these wonderful stories about her homeland, and I was hoping for a bigger insight into this world.

But what I got is a transplantation of the overly oppressive elements of Indian society in a lovely tropical location. I will have to ask her about this, as that is the cultural background she is from (as opposed to Afro-Caribbean) but she funnily enough went home for the Christmas break so I
Valmiki Krishnu is a respected medical doctor with a charming wife and two daughters. Viveka, the eldest, is studying English at university. Vashti is in high school. They live in a wealthy subdivision in Trinidad and, to outside appearances, are very much like the upper-class Indo-Trinidadians that make up their social circle.

Like the caged birds that Valmiki keeps, however, the Krishnus are trapped by the bars of their rigid community. Valmiki juggles his need for his longtime male lover, Saul
he plot of the book was very strong, the author did a wonderful job at exploring and showing the struggles of person who is exploring and trying to come to terms with their sexuality. There were also some beautiful descriptions of the island, which brought the culture of Trinidad to life off the pages, but the book in the end fell short for me.

Although the book had a good plot, I found it hard to concentrate on it, as there were a lot of side plots and secondary characters who's stories became
Any discussion at all of Shani Mootoo I must precede with an acknowledgement that I love, love, LOVE, her writing. I think she’s one of the most talented writers or artists period whose work I am familiar with—she happens to be one of those disgustingly talented people who is not only an imaginative and brilliant writer but also a gifted visual artist and filmmaker. So when I finally picked up her most recent novel Valmiki’s Daughter (2008), after being too swamped for too long with school work ...more
Wendy G
Apr 23, 2013 Wendy G rated it liked it
I was really looking forward to my first Shani Mootoo, and I'm sorry to say that I ended up being disappointed in "Valmiki's Daughter." It is the story of Valmiki, an Indo-Trini doctor, who is raising his two daughters in the daily reality of Trini society but with the expectations of their Indian heritage. The daughter of the title, Viveka, is discovering her lesbian and gender-nonconforming identity, which her mother strives to stamp out of her. Valmiki is married and ostesibly heterosexual, h ...more
Oct 26, 2015 Badriya rated it it was amazing
Immediately I started this book I was drawn to it because the descriptions of the settings have many similarities to my hometown Lagos. Though Mootoo exhibited the various cliches and stereotype associated with the difference between generations, the characters are so well rounded that it pinpoints the realities of the situation very realistically. The honesty of this novel both shocked and pleased me. And the descriptions of the sex scenes are so thorough without being vulgar. I really like who ...more
Niya B
Apr 12, 2013 Niya B rated it liked it
While not as brilliantly evocative as Cereus Blooms at Night, Valmiki's Daughter offers a view on traditional post colonial families, the space that women can, and do occupy, and the struggles they and their families deal with as they negotiate between a "western" model and a more traditional one that in some ways holds true to a traditional that their home countries do not maintain, but that they choose to cling to in hopes of preserving a non "white" identity that they know isn't representativ ...more
Jan 06, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
This book has a lot to say not only about gender and sexuality, but also about traditional vs. modern life, and the feeling of being caught between those two worlds.

The writing is beautiful, although I found the "your journey" sections irritating and the "24 seconds/minutes/months" distracting.

This book was given to me by my sister, who it also very much reminded me of. It made me want to go to Trinidad.
Jun 08, 2010 Hailey rated it liked it
When reading this book, you are bombarded with monstrous detail and descriptions, which is fine, but in this case it detracts from the main plot. I found it hard to keep focused when reading this especially dense book and although I really loved the story and the setting, it was the "journey" sections and questionable sub-plots that removed it from my recommend list.
Oct 22, 2009 Sooz rated it liked it
long listed for 2009 Giller Prize, but cut from the finalist list. it looks at gender / sexual orientation stuggles within families. a carefully paced story. not a lot happens, but it gives an intimate view of a family - an inside peek at how a family juggles traditional and more modern values. good but not great.
Jan 04, 2014 Keetha rated it liked it
A good book, and intro to Shani Mootoo. A little slow at first to set up everything then rushed through the main part. Some intentional loose ends that I can't decide whether they are intriguing or annoying. Beautiful and subtle complexities though.
Jul 30, 2011 Ali added it
There were parts of this book that were a bit slow but it was well worth getting through them. The father-daughter both dealing and not dealing with queerness storyline was really painful and lovely.
so gay. so post-colonial. so yes.

This book left me thinking about the intersections of queer identity with race and culture, which is something I have honestly barely given any of my time or thinkspace before, so that's pretty rad
Jan 10, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2014 Deirdre rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
A little tough to get into at first but ultimately rewarding, with lots of interesting characters. I need to read more by this author!
Jan 06, 2012 Nikki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I actually liked this book more toward the end. The beginning is almost tediously descriptive. However, the characters themselves are easy to empathize with. I was left sort of confused at the end.
Jul 25, 2011 Magda rated it really liked it
An interesting story about Trinidad, families, sexual identities and Caribbean imagery. A warning: the first twenty pages are uncharacteristically slow.
Lupin Battersby
Lupin Battersby rated it it was ok
Aug 24, 2011
Nayomi rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2012
Kerry Boland
Kerry Boland rated it it was amazing
Nov 08, 2012
Christy rated it liked it
Aug 05, 2014
Anne-Louise Savage
Anne-Louise Savage rated it it was amazing
Jul 05, 2012
Nehal rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2014
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Nov 09, 2014
Gngha rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2013
Jenna Hanchey
Jenna Hanchey rated it really liked it
Nov 04, 2013
Deepak Kumar
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Apr 10, 2015
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Jan 29, 2012
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Feb 18, 2017
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Shani Mootoo, writer, visual artist and video maker, was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1957 to Trinidadian parents. She grew up in Trinidad and relocated at age 24 to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada.
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