Review ofFor the Love of my Name
The Nature of History
“ 'For the Love of my Name' is a moving, disturbing, profound novel. It is an important novel to be coming out at this moment in history, as we turn into a new millennium and inevitably must think about the qualities and values that might – will – should—characterise human societies in the future...
Indeed in so far as I have read another novel that deals with some of these issues in a comparable way, then the great Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah is the book that comes closest. It was shortlisted for the Booker prize: I would hope that the judges for the year 2000 Booker pay due attention to Lakshmi’s book, it is of that quality and originality.
The Love of My Name is a complex, multi-voiced and many layered novel, its essential subject is tyranny and political corruption, but understood in mythic, moral and historical contexts as well as in terms of concrete social and economic consequences.
Lakshmi Persaud explores the psychological, spiritual and personal dimensions of such tyranny, both for the victims and in terms of the distorted perceptions of the tyrant himself and those around him. The novels’ most striking symbolism is in its use of the mask – both literal and metaphorical, as both disguise and liberation. Behind the mask much is permissible which would otherwise be unthinkable: ethnic identity crudely and cynically invoked, can be such mask. The stories shift in time and focus so that we have to abandon ideas of a linear development, a master narrative or simplistic notions of plot development for a more challenging engagement with voices and experiences.
In this device Lakshmi Persaud is asking questions about the nature of history, the power of versions of events told from particular privileged positions. Life – and this fiction – is more complex.”