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Fiction Literary

Valmiki's Daughter

by (author) Shani Mootoo

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Nov 2009
Literary, Lesbian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2009
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2008
    List Price

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Out of print

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In Valmiki's Daughter, Giller Prize finalist and bestselling novelist Shani Mootoo returns to some of the themes she first explored in her breakout book, Cereus Blooms at Night, to offer a hugely entertaining and hypnotically beautiful family saga.The story centers on a wealthy Trinidadian family -- in particular, Valmiki, a renowned doctor and loving, if confused, father; and his youngest daughter, Viveka, lively, intelligent, and intent on escaping the gilded cage that protects but also smothers her.

With this masterful novel, Mootoo peels back layers of prejudice to expose the complex interaction of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Discerning but non-judgmental, she eases us deep into the fascinating lives of her characters and creates a juicy, sexy, beautiful book, full of the vigorous stuff of life.

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


  • Long-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

A masterful storyteller.

Washington Post

[Valmiki's Daughter is] an in-depth exploration of willful miscommunication and suppressed desire...A wise and skillful guide to their dark, complicated world...a stand-out novel that offers a nuanced look at families that fail to nurture

Montreal Gazette

Highly charged and downright explosive. Mootoo's description of sexual awakening is one of the most poignant I've run across.


Valmiki's Daughter weaves together vingettes that are seemingly borrowed from life itself.

The Telegraph, Kolkalta

Shani Mootoo elevates her material through deft characterization, an ever-building sense of urgency, and her obvious love for an island landscape...

Georgia Straight

Mootoo's prose is vivid, poetic and passionate. She takes no easy routes with the narrative. This is a writer who knows how to satisfy the reader...NNNN

NOW Magazine

What make's Mootoo's book worth reading is how she takes a simple plot and brings it to life through her deft characterisation and an ever-present sense of urgency.

The Asian Age, New Delhi

[Valmiki's Daughter] shimmers with passion; with the heat of desires denied. Heavy with smells, rich with flavours and throbbing with music, it is a feast for the senses. The landscape serves as a metaphor for sexuality: the dangerous jungle of unleashed desires vie with the manicured lawns of nature suppressed...Readers can look to this book as a tropical respite from a bitter winter's chill.

Winnipeg Free Press

What's most her elucidation of the tragic ways in which stereotypes of race, gender and sexuality ensnare the young.

The Times of India

Mootoo's sense of narrative pacing verges on genius.

Edmonton Journal

Mootoo's talent for writing vivid and redolent landscapes is one of the hallmarks of her work...An intricately woven and thoughtfully constructed book.

Caribbean Review of Books

A readable family saga...[Valmiki's Daughter] is possessed of a droll, knowing humour...[Shani Mootoo] gives us a view of Trinidad we have not had before.

Globe and Mail

It's a vibrating and uplifting book.

Deccan Herald, Bangalore

Mootoo can be counted as one of our most gifted writers.

Vancouver Sun

Impressive...Mootoo has an impeccable ear...authentic and powerful.

New York Times Book Review

A novel for both brain and heart: at once wise and smouldering...

Camilla Gibb

A writer with a generous spirit and a gift for storytelling.

Globe and Mail


DNA Mumbai

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