Monday, 6 January 2014

Valmiki's Daughter - #46

Image sourced from here
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 have to wait until I get back to work. But this was entirely at odds to conversations we had had. And that was worrying to me from the outset. Two possibilities for this. One is my friend's childhood and young adulthood was abnormal. Or the book written by a expat living in Canada was abnormal. So I was slightly on edge.

Valmiki is a rich, successful doctor on Trinidad. He has a wife and two daughters. He sleeps with lots of exotic, foreign women. We also find out in the first quarter, even the first fifth of the book, that he is actually gay (I say gay not bi, as he seems to have absolutely no feelings towards the women besides his wife, and that just seems to be companionship, not love at all)and sneaks off into the forest to go hunting with a group of lower class men (class is a BIG deal apparently...), one of which he has had a long term sexual relationship with. This is apparently a giant elephant in the room as his wife knows and it's all about keeping up appearances.

But then he is so upset about a fight with his wife and eldest daughter as she wants to play sport. And this is wrong and not to be tolerated apparently, more by wifey than him, but it sets off alarm bells for him. And I'm here thinking "Oh here we fricking go". Then there is a big deal about what his intelligent daughter wears. This is an reoccurring theme, about how she likes jeans, a cotton shirt and leather Indian shoes. If I wanted to read a book about clothes I would find the equivalent of Sex in the City in paperback. For disclosure's sake, that's what I wear substituting tshirt for shirt as I feel like it, and shoes would be thongs or skate shoes. But the whole time I'm reading this I'm getting "DO YOU GET IT????? She won't wear a dress!!!! SHE'S A LESBIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" If the author had taken a 2x4 and painted "She is a lesbian" on it, and then smacked me literally over the head with that, it would have been more subtle.

Enter the French girl who apparently goes both ways, because all French girls do.   ...    Really? Is that not incredibly offensive to put peoples sexuality down to a nationalistic stereotype???

And then the end. The ending made me want to throw up over the entire book.

Just. No.

When I get back to work I'm asking my friend for a proper Trini read as this was bollocks. Not very grown up that final assessment, but I really did not enjoy much of this book at all and at 398pp I'm entitled to call it names.

No comments:

Post a Comment