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Fiction Literary

Cereus Blooms at Night

Penguin Modern Classics Edition

by (author) Shani Mootoo

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Feb 2022
Literary, Gay, Lesbian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 1998
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2022
    List Price

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Bold and lyrical, sensual and highly charged, Cereus Blooms at Night is the beautifully written, sensational first novel by Shani Mootoo, one of Canada’s most exciting literary voices.
     At the core of this haunting multi-generational novel are the shifting faces of Mala—adventurer and protector, recluse, and madwoman. Told by the engaging voice of Tyler, Mala’s vivacious male caretaker at the Paradise Alms House, Cereus Blooms at Night is layered with unforgettable scenes of a world where love and treachery collide.

About the author

Shani Mootoo was born in Ireland, grew up in Trinidad, and lives in Canada. She holds an MA in English from the University of Guelph, writes fiction and poetry, and is a visual artist whose work has been exhibited locally and internationally. Mootoo's critically acclaimed novels include Polar Vortex, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, Valmiki's Daughter, He Drown She in the Sea, and Cereus Blooms at Night. She is a recipient of the K.M. Hunter Arts Award, a Chalmers Fellowship Award, and the James Duggins Outstanding Midcareer Novelist Award. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and includes the collection, The Predicament of Or. In 2021 Mootoo was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Western University. Her work has been long- and shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Dublin IMPAC Award, and the Booker Prize. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Shani Mootoo's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Dazzling . . . Mootoo creates a dense Asian-Caribbean world of buried secrets and desperate memories, a hothouse in which stories grow as lushly as flowers.” —Books in Canada

“The passion of the characters, their insistence to live, to find joy despite the tyranny under which they conduct their lives, makes Cereus Blooms at Night remarkable.” —Shyam Selvadurai, author of Funny Boy

“[Mootoo's] language and characters seduce us away to a mythic place that is, by turns, as sweet as the first knowing of love and as hard as a callous blow. Inside the grand sweep of the story are the finely tuned details which mark a brilliant storyteller.” —Jewelle Gomez
“Working with magic, grounded by psychological insight, Mootoo weaves a deft design of vivid and sensuous scenes.” —Quill & Quire

“This ethereal first novel employs myth and magic reminiscent of Isabel Allende.” —Out Magazine

“Reading Cereus Blooms at Night is like reading a dream, entering a strange but believable world in which unusual possibilities flower like the cereus itself: evocative, pervasive, sensuous.” —Books in Canada

“A swirling cauldron of cross-generational history filled with violence, romance, aching beauty, and heart-breaking mystery.” —Sojourner 

“[A] writer with a generous spirit and a gift for storytelling. We should watch where she travels next.” —The Globe and Mail

“Mootoo’s ability to evoke a physical environment is so convincing that the reader can taste the grittiness of lime dust on her own lips. . . . She is able to enter each character from their own deepest place of privacy.” —Lambda Book Report

“Like the titular cereus that blooms once a year at night, Mootoo at the climax releases a dense burst of aroma into this exquisitely exact novel.” —Georgia Straight
Cereus Blooms at Night is a gem, a wonderful flower of a first novel; Shani Mootoo can be counted as one of our most gifted new writers.” —Vancouver Sun

Other titles by Shani Mootoo