Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night may bring to mind Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. The narrative structures of both books are circular (as opposed to strictly linear or chronological), with smaller stories interwoven throughout the overarching plot lines. Like Cereus, God of Small Things vividly conveys the perspective of childhood, family relationships, classism, colonization, alienation, and passion. A tragic love/mystery story told in a beautiful manner, The God of Small Things is recommended to anyone looking for reading akin to Cereus Blooms at Night.
Alice Walker's classic novel also features a victim of childhood incest at its center. Like Mala, Celie possesses an urgent bond to her estranged sister, whose presence also returns at the end of the novel in the form of unread letters. Both women face the challenges of maintaining the home for a domineering male authority figure, from the perspective of a female of color.
"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, 1929
William Faulkner's short story, also told in non-linear form, tracks the story of an aging Southern belle whose lover mysteriously left town years ago. The communal, masculine voice that narrates this story differs from Tyler's "queered" sympathetic narration. Faulkner addresses non normative sexuality in the character of Homer, Emily's beau, whose homosexuality causes Emily to dispose of him in a manner eerily similar to Mala's means of freeing herself from Chandin. Like Mala, Emily Grierson also survived a domineering father. Both stories feature climatic scenes where the town discovers the hidden history behind the legendary women's lives.
Set in a rural town in Barbados, once referred to as "Little England" in its status as a closely watched colony, Lamming explores the dominating effects of colonialism and the changes time brings to the island through the life of his protagonist G. This story parallels Cereus Blooms at Night's depiction of "The Shivering Wetlands" and colonialism in the Caribbean.
In a kind of coming-of-age story, Lucy, a West-Indian girl working for a family in America, recounts her experience of familial and cultural estrangement in leaving the homeland alongside the development of a fiercely unique sexual identity. Through their respective works, both Kincaid and Mootoo address the issue of identity and the exploration of sexuality.
"The Empire Writes Back: Post-Colonial Caribbean Literature"
A site which discusses post-colonial theory, The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, and Heart of Darkness. http://faculty.pittstate.edu/~knichols/colonialindex.html
See also comparisons of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea on this site.
Last modified 8 January 2005