Review ofRaise the Lanterns High

A writer of simplicity and poise
Dr. Chandra S. Pande, USA.

“With her fourth novel, 'Raise the Lanterns High', Dr Lakshmi Persaud narrates once more, in her exquisite style, the trial and tribulations of the long suffering, but ultimately triumphant, Indian woman. Here the heroine is Vasti whom one encounters first as a school girl in Trinidad and then twelve years later as grown woman about to be married to a man with a dark past and finally almost as a ghostlike character watching the anguish as well as machinations of the queens following the death of their royal husband in 18th century India.

As usual she treats her characters' lives with both objectivity and compassion, to bring out their heartfelt response to various events. Being a writer of simplicity and poise, she captures the intricacies of human nature. A sympathetic storyteller, she has an eye for detail, an economy of prose and a precision of portrayal, a style which invites comparison with her countryman Sir Vidya Naipaul, yet has a charm all its own. Those who have gotten accustomed to the silken smoothness of her narrative marked by almost effortless craftsmanship, will not be disappointed by her latest effort.

One minor criticism of her carefully crafted novel might be that by describing, in such detail, the custom of an earlier time of Suttee (the practice of widow burning) it may just feed into the public, more stereotypes in depicting the culture of her forebears. But in the novel this event (and events leading to it) is used more as a metaphor for Vasti's own life and feelings than as a social comment for the reprehensible practice.

Philip Gwyn Jones, publishing director of Flamingo, referring to Indian women novelists recently stated "These writers bring a freshness to the language that makes for some of the world's most refreshing literature. They infuse English with new rhythms and cadences, and generate new forms." An apt description for the author of 'Raise the Lanterns High'. She easily wins my vote for the Booker prize!”