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Valmiki's Daughter

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  302 ratings  ·  36 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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Average rating 3.68  · 
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3.5 to 4 stars

With social themes that resonate with me as a Caribbean reader, Mootoo takes the reader on the journey of living a secret and repressing one's identity to conform for societal and familial acceptance.

-She had no map of her future, but she knew who she was. She would not be diminished because of it- Viveka.

In the opening scene of Mootoo's story, one gets such detailed descriptions, that streets, statues and buildings seem to emit such a presence as to build the very atmosphere of th
The simplest plots can take on the world. With the two families Mootoo charts cultural, political, social, and sexual histories and identities. She broaches topics specific to a particular Trinidadian context. (Tobago don't figure at all, tbh. Not in a way I could decipher.) With this book, obviously in dialogue with A House for Mr Biswas, Mootoo goes beyond its limits, using gender, sexuality, and aspects of T&T's colonial past, to emphasise the multiplicity that can and does exist in the most ...more
read for school. this is such a heartbreaking book and the ending in particular is so awful because of the idea that societal pressure is so overwhelming that Indian LGBT people have to have a heterosexual marriage to fit in, survive, live. also this book had a LOT of descriptions of sex, food, and geography/nature. not sure what to make of those.
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
Jul 01, 2012 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
Marissa and her goodreads spam
honestly, i think this is my new favorite book. reading it was kind of like zen, the writing was so beautiful and descriptive. shani mootoo took my brain on a bittersweet vacation to trinidad and tobago. each character was developed so wellllll and the emotions of family life were so realistic (even though i know 0 things about life in trinidad, emotions must be the same everywhere).

i think this painted a very realistic picture of sexuality and acceptance shown through the experiences of valmik
Jan 06, 2012 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.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I grabbed this book at the book thing because it was written by a Caribbean writer and sounded like my cup of tea....island life, writer with some travel experience, yay! And then it sat on my bookshelf.
This is the story of a family living in Trinidad and trying to get by. A father who is a closeted bisexual who has affairs because he is unsatisfied in his life. A butch daughter who tries to appease her parents by dating men, but finds herself obsessed with women and determined to play volleyba
Joy Ramlogan
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book peels back the layers of South Trinidadian Indian society through the lens of a repressed homosexual doctor Valmiki and his elder daughter Viveka who discovers that she too is a lesbian. Structurally the novel gains pace eventually. As a Trini, I liked the opening description of San Fernando and the landmarks with the cacophony of sound and smells. However, as a reader, I thought this descriptive chapter addressed to the reader was excessively long and I did not know what to make of it ...more
Farhana Faruq
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I love that this novel takes place in Trinidad, and how Mootoo describes all the different areas (not the "your journey" sections, those were slow). Otherwise, there is no real story, everyone seems to be closet homosexuals and the author has portrayed basically every male character as pathetic. ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
i really liked it but the ending could mean a number of things
Mar 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 3.5 stars but I'm feeling generous ...more
Jan Morrison
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Erotic, full of gorgeous detail, but so sad.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
3.5 stars
was a bit rough to read, homosexuality/bisexuality in a conservative indo-trinidanian culture means this is a rather complex novel of identity (a somewhat too slow paced one at times).
Dani (The Pluviophile Writer)
This book was long listed for 2009 Giller Prize and it is easy to see why.

Review at The Pluviophile Reader:

4/5 stars.
ebook, 410 pages.
Read from June 19, 2017 to June 23, 2017.

It’s always nice when a rewards program actually provides you with a reward you actually like! I signed up for the VIP program with Kobo since I figured I buy enough ebooks through out the year that the discount would be worth the small fee I paid to sign up. When you sign up you have the option of sel
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
Wendy G
Apr 23, 2013 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
Nairne Holtz
Valmiki’s Daughter addresses the conflict between desire and social conformity felt by members of a wealthy Hindu family living in Trinidad. In one sense, not much happens—university student Viveka sneaks out to play sports against her father’s wishes (for he is concerned she is not sufficiently feminine) and falls in love with a married French woman. But over the course of this slow-paced novel the author reveals an entire society and the complex intersections of race, class, gender and sexuali ...more
Oct 26, 2015 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
Apr 12, 2013 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 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.
Oct 22, 2009 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.
Jun 08, 2010 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. ...more
Jul 30, 2011 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.
Jan 04, 2014 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. ...more
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
Megan Rosol
Jul 25, 2011 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.
Lynn Kearney
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Alas, I have no memory of it but I rated it highly two months ago, when I did!
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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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