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Bissoondath, Neil

toronto home stories violence

(Trinidadian/Canadian, 1955– )

Bissoondath's books of short stories, Digging Up the Mountains (1985), and On the Eve of Uncertain Tomorrows (1990), display his ability to empathize with characters—for example, a young Japanese girl in Toronto trying to liberate herself from traditional cultural constraints—far from home. He is also able to enter imaginatively into the life of the Asian, both at home and abroad; but his African characters tend to be stereotypes. The ‘Asian’ stories form a link with those myths brought over from India by, among others, Seepersad Naipaul (a relative) in Gurudeva and Other Indian Tales (privately printed in Trinidad in 1943). Bissoondath's first novel, A Casual Brutality (1988) is about a doctor returning to his native Caribbean, but there encountering political upheaval and violence, which increase his sense of alienation. The Innocence of Age (1992) features a white Canadian hero, who identifies with the immigrant population against the violence and materialism of Toronto.

V. S. Naipaul, Samuel Selvon. See caribbean  EM

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