Review ofRaise the Lanterns High
“Raise the Lanterns High is a profound and fascinating tale through which Lakshmi Persaud has further developed the discourse on Indian womanhood with which she has been engaged in her earlier novels Butterfly in the Wind and Sastra. Her new novel is a complex narrative which moves on several planes and presents a critique on the ancient traditions and rituals which construct the boundaries within which an Indian woman has to operate. She accepts its eternal relevance and worth.
The uniqueness of Lakshmi Persaud’s approach lies in the manner in which, while working within a feminist discourse, she also upsets the Western constructs… Besides, the discourse on suttee is multidimensional since Baalaajee, Pundit Krishna, the Queens and Kala provide various degrees of dissent. However, this discourse is never a personal viewpoint – it is based on reinterpretation of the ancient texts.
The novel is open-ended with a suggestion of the positive, despite the fact that the protagonist Vasti chooses to refrain from breaking the given frame. She thinks: "Will you crack the glass, rent the whole and bring immeasurable pain to those you hold dear? … Change is best absorbed when it evolves."
Lakshmi Pesaud’s prose is extremely poetic. The normal every day objects and actions become imbued with universal and spiritual connotations. The description of marriage rituals, the ritual bathing of Queen Meena, of food and festivities are extremely evocative and sensuous. Besides, her narrative is positioned within a consciousness that is typically Indian in the manner in which it celebrates the divine essence present in all aspects of life. Her novel will always appeal to the Indian sensibility because of her quiet confirmation of the values of endurance, courage, fortitude, faithfulness and devotion in these troubled times.”