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Topics: Canada, Novel, Immigration Pages: 2 (731 words) Published: October 19, 2014
Neil Bissoondath's writing takes readers into marginalized social and geographical territories, without ever moving far outside the conventions of literary realism. This combination of the exotic and the familiar has attracted a wide readership extending from North America to Europe, where his works have been translated into French and German. Given his family history of double migration from India to Trinidad to Canada, it is not surprising that his narratives often focus on migrant experiences of displacement, uncertainty, isolation, cultural dislocation, and adaptation. These themes dominate many of the stories in Digging Up the Mountains and On the Eve of Uncertain Tomorrows. Of particular interest in such stories as "Christmas Lunch," "Veins Visible," "Security," and "The Power of Reason" is Bissoondath's alertness to the complexity of gender relations in multicultural contexts, and to differences between women's and men's respective experiences of migration and cultural adaptation. Episodes of apparently random violence witnessed by Bissoondath in his early years in Trinidad find a place in his first novel A Casual Brutality. Narrated in the first person, the novel is a colonial Bildungsroman. The protagonist's inner journey towards maturity and understanding is bound up with a physical journey from a small Third World island to a metropolitan center of Western culture. Although the fictional island of Casaquemada resembles Trinidad in certain respects, Bissoondath's aim is not to recount a specific epoch in Trinidad's history, but rather to draw on episodes that took place in various West Indian countries. This desire to internationalize and universalize his stories, and to avoid analysis of specific historical episodes and political struggles, has attracted severe criticism from certain quarters. Over time, Bissoondath's focus has shifted away from Trinidad toward his Canadian experiences and concerns. The title story of On the Eve of Uncertain Tomorrows...
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