Review ofButterfly in the Wind

Interlacing of Perspective

"Lakshmi Persaud is a noteworthy figure in the developing body of Caribbean literature. As the first female Indo-Caribbean novelist, Persaudís Butterfly in the Wind (1990) offers an unprecedented portrait of 1940s Trinidad as it is filtered through the consciousness of Kamla Maharaj, a Trinidadian girl of Indian ancestry. Strung together as a series of loosely interwoven sketches, the narrative describes the protagonistís coming-of-age among a close-knit, Hindu community living in the rural island interior. In her loving catalogue of the cultural and linguistic traditions (be it in terms of food, names, rituals, flora and fauna, etc.) transplanted in the Caribbean by indentured labourers and their descendants, Persaud also makes evident the process of indigenization of South Asian culture in her island home."

"In form and scope, Persaudís episodic narrative is immediately reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaidís earlier fictional autobiography entitled Annie John (1987). Much like Kamlaís struggle for self-determination in a colonial Caribbean island, Annie Johnís coming-of-age story also functions - though far more subtly - as an allegory of her island communityís gradual move toward independence. Both Persaud and Kincaidís texts are presented as a series of anecdotal sketches that cohere in the governing voice of a strong-willed female narrator, thereby defying strict generic codification as fictional autobiographies that also function as bildungsromans. As bildungsromans, Kamla and Annieís stories employ a dual if not kaleidoscopic focalization in continually positioning their protagonistís developing sense of self within a dialogic framework which includes other female voices in the community. This interlacing of perspective in light of other womenís experiences subverts the traditional construction of the bildungsroman as a male-centred, linear progression toward established or dominant national ideals."

". . . As Persaudís oeuvre reveals, Indo-Caribbean writers do not part company with their Afro-Caribbean counterparts so much as they bring to the fore a diasporic poetics of selfhood that re-conceptualizes Caribbean subjectivity within a complex network of individual, communal, national, trans-national and ancestral ties."