Shani Mootoo

Born in Dublin in the late 1950s, Shani Mootoo was raised in Trinidad. She came to Canada at the age of nineteen and earned a fine arts degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1980. She established herself as a painter and video producer before turning her talents to writing. With her first novel, Cereus Blooms at Night, Mootoo found a larger audience and established herself as a literary figure to watch.


Cereus Blooms at Night

Vancouver: Press Gang, 1996.
9th floor PS8576 .O622 C47 1996

Publisher’s Synopsis (Press Gang Publishers, 1996)

At the core of this haunting multi-generational novel are the shifting faces of Mala — adventurer and protector, recluse and madwoman. Told by Tyler, Mala’s vivacious male caretaker at the Paradise Alms House, the story is layered with unforgettable scenes of a world where love and treachery collide.

Awards and Honours

1997 in Canada First Novel Award (formerly Chapters/Books in Canada) (Nominated)
1997 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (Nominated)
1997 Giller Prize (Nominated)
1997 James Tiptree Jr. Award (Nominated)


He Drown She in the Sea

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2005.
9th floor PS8576 .O622 H4 2005

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Guanagaspar around the time of the Second World War, and in modern-day Vancouver, He Drown She in the Sea, fulfills the promise of Shani Mootoo’s internationally acclaimed debut novel, Cereus Blooms at Night.
At the centre of the story is Harry St. George, the son of a laundress, and the unrequited love he bears for a woman, Rose, the daughter of a wealthy man, whom he knew as a child. Looking back to his past, evoking the rich culture and texture of his Caribbean boyhood, and the life of his mother, Dolly, Harry reveals his friendship with Rose, and the events that will continue to haunt him across time and place. When Rose arrives suddenly in Vancouver, where Harry has built a hard-earned life for himself, the two embark on an impossible affair that will have tragic consequences.

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab book cover


Moving Forward Sidewise Like a Crab

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2014.
9th floor PS8576 .O622 M68 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis

Awards and Honours

2015 Lambda Literary Award–Transgender Fiction (Finalist)

Fiction (Short stories)

Out on Main Street & Other Stories

Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1993.
9th floor PS8576 .O622 O8 1993


Valmiki’s Daughter

Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2008.
9th floor PS8576 .O622 V35 2008

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The story circles around a well-to-do 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. Father and daughter conceal painful secrets about their sexual identities, and it is Viveka’s struggle to discover the truth about herself that threatens to unmask her father and shake the foundations of her family and her delicately calibrated society.


The Predicament of Or

Vancouver: Polestar, 2001.
9th floor PS8576 .O622 P73 2001

Publisher’s Synopsis (Polestar, 2001)

In haunting and astonishing language, shot through with the speech and rhythms of Trinidad, Mootoo walks a breathtaking tightrope–between cultures and identities, between geographical locations, between memory and desire.


Cross-Dressed Caribbean: Writing, Politics, Sexualities

9th floor PR9205.05 .C76 2013

Mootoo, Shani. “On Becoming an Indian Starboy.” In Cross-Dressed Caribbean: Writing, Politics, Sexualities, edited by Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Bénédicte Ledent, and Roberto del Valle Alcalá.  Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 167-172.


Desire in Seven Voices

9th floor PS8367 .D47 D47 2003

Mootoo, Shani. “Photo Parentheses.” In Desire in Seven Voices , edited by Lorna Crozier. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1999, 105-124.


Writing Life

9th floor PS8367 .A8 W75 2006

Mootoo, Shani. “Poetry Lesson .” In Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life, edited by Constance Rooke. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2006, 288-296.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Brüning, Angela. “The Corporeal and the Sensual in Two Novels by Shani Mootoo and Julia Alvarez.” In Beyond the Blood, the Beach & the Banana: New Perspectives in Caribbean Studies, edited by Sandra Courtman. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2004.
6th floor F2175 .B49 2004

Choudhuri, Sucheta Mallick.  “Transgressive Territories: Queer Space in Indian Fiction and Film.”  Ph.D. diss., University of Iowa, 2009.

Corr, John. “Diasporic Sexualities in Contemporary Canadian Fiction.” Ph.D. diss., McMaster University, 2007.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Cummings, Ronald Bancroft. “Queer Marronage and Caribbean Writing.” PhD diss., University of Leeds, 2012.
Available soon from White Rose E-theses Online

Datta-Kimball, Shompaballi. “Post-colonial Re-presentations of Gendered Diasporic Indian Identity in the Fictions of Suniti Namjoshi and Shani Mootoo.” Ph.D. diss., University of Alabama, 2004.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Donnell, Alison. “Living and Loving: Emancipating the Queer Caribbean Citizen in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night.” In Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean, edited by Faith Smith. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.
9th floor PN849 .C3 S49 2011

Ferrante, Allyson Salinger. “Emperors of Invisible Cities: The Sovereignty of the Imagination in Caribbean Literature.” Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 2011.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Fox, Linda Christine. “Queer Outburst: A Literary and Social Analysis of the Vancouver Node (1995-1996) in English Canadian Queer Women’s Literature.” Ph.D. diss., University of Victoria, 2009.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Gagnon, Monika Kin. “Out in the Garden: Shani Mootoo’s Xerox Works.” In Other Conundrums: Race, Culture and Canadian Art. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2000, 146-155.
8th floor N6549.3 .G34 2000

Gopinath, Gayatri. “Queer Diasporas: Gender, Sexuality and Migration in Contemporary South Asian Literature and Cultural Production.” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1998.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Also 7th floor HQ76.25 .G67 2005 “Nostalgia, Desire, Diaspora: Funny Boy and Cereus Blooms at Night“, chap. in Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queering Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Durham: Duke University, 2005), 161-186.

Hong, Kyungwon. “The Histories of the Propertyless: The Literatures of United States Women of Color.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego, 2000.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Howells, Coral Ann . “Changing Boundaries of Identity: Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night.” In Contemporary Canadian Women’s Fiction: Refiguring Identities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
9th floor PS8089.5 .W6 H67 2003

Iovannone, Jeffry J. “Transperformance: Transgendered Reading Strategies, Contemporary American Literature.” M.A. thesis, State University of New York at Buffalo, 2006.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Kaleel, Rhonda A. “An Ecocritical and Metaphorical Analysis of “Cereus Blooms at Night”.” M.A. thesis, Florida Atlantic University, 2005.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Kandiuk, Mary. “Shani Mootoo.” In Caribbean and South Asian Writers in Canada: A Bibliography of Their Works and of English-language Criticism. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2007, 94-97.
9th floor PS8089.5 .C37 K36 2007

Khan, Aliyah R.  “”Calling the Magician”: The Metamorphic Indo-Caribbean.”  Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2012.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses
Available as an open access dissertation from

Layne, Prudence. “Towards and Erotics of Hybridity: Bodies at the Crossroads of a Nation.” Ph.D. diss., University of Miami, 2004.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

McKeown, Judith Antoinette Jeannette.  “Si(gh)t[e]-ing and (Re)writing Home(lessness): African and Indian Caribbean Women En/gendering Multiple Migratory Identifications in Canada.”  M.A. thesis, York University, 2005.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Morgan, Paula. “From a Distance: Territory, Subjectivity, and Identity Construction in Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night.” In Caribbean Literature in a Global Context, ed. Funso Aiyejina & Paula Morgan. San Juan, Trinidad & Tobago: Lexicon Trinidad, 2006, 104-130.
9th floor PR9210 .A515 C37 2006

Morguson, Alisun. “All the Pieces Matter: Fragmentation-as-Agency in the Novels of Edwidge Danticat, Michelle Cliff, and Shani Mootoo.” M.A. thesis, University of Indiana, 2013. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Available as an open access thesis from

Mootoo, Shani. “Shani Mootoo”. Interview by Kofi Omoniyi Sylvanus Campbell.  In his The Queer Caribbean Speaks: Interviews with Writers, Artists, and Activists.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, [135]-145.
9th floor PR9205.4 .C36 2014

Neti, Leila Bhanu.  “Dialogues Across Diasporas: Postcolonial Continuities in Literatures of the Global South.”  Ph.D. diss., University of California, Irvine, 2006.

Palmer, Paulina. “Place and Space.” Chap. in her The Queer Uncanny: New Perspectives on the Gothic. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2012, 105-151.
9th floor PR830 .T3 P35 2012

Pecic, Zoran. “Shani Mootoo’s Diasporas.” Chap. in his Queer Narratives of the Caribbean Diaspora: Exploring Tactics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 36-101.
9th floor PN849 .C3 P43 2013

Phukan, Atreyee.  “East Indianness in the West Indies: Representations of Post-indentureship in Indo-Trinidadian Literature.”  Ph.D. diss., Rutgers The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick, 2006.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Reid, Mary. “”Nowhere if not Here”: The Ethics of Queer Experimentation in the Global Novel Form.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego, 2012.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Sarbadhikary, Krishna. “Imaginary Landscapes, Permeable Borders: Shani Mootoo.” In Surviving the Fracture: Writers of the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora. New Delhi: Creative Books, 2007, 237-271.
9th floor PS8089.5 .S68 S37 2007

Sarnelli, Laura. “Poetics of Memory and Migration: Shani Mootoo’s The Predicament of Or and Out on Main Street.” In The Expatriate Indian Writing in English. Vol. 1, ed. T. Vinoda and P. Shailaja.  New Delhi: Prestige Books, 2006, 209-223.
9th floor PR9489.6 .E96 2006 v.1

Shani Mootoo: My Dinner With Shani

Produced and directed by Frances-Anne Solomon. 24. min. Leda Serene Films, 2005.
Audio-visual, 2nd floor PS8576 .O622 Z75 2005

Singh, Jaspal Kaur, “Queering Diaspora in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night, Nisha Ganatra’s Chutney Popcorn, and Deepa Mehta’s Fire.” In her Representation and Resistance: South Asian and African Women’s Texts at Home and in the Diaspora.  Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2008, 163-176.
9th floor PN56.5 .W64 S563 2008

Sudhakar, Anantha.  “Conditional Futures: South Asian American Cultural Production and Community Formation, 1991–2001.”  Ph.D. diss., Rutgers The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick, 2011.
Available as an open access dissertation from

Tagore, Proma. “Witnessing as Testimony: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night.” Chap. in her The Shapes of Silence: Writing by Women of Colour and, the Politics of Testimony. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.
9th floor PN471 .T33 2009

Taylor, Emily L.  “Rewriting the Mother/Nation: No Telephone to Heaven, In Another Place, Not Here and Cereus Blooms at Night.” Chap. in The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature, ed. Michael A. Bucknor and Alison Donnell.  Abingdon: Routledge, 2011.
9th floor PR9205 .R68 2011

Urbistondo, Josune.  “Caribbean Bodyscapes: The Politics of Sacred Citizenship and the Transpersonal Body.”  Ph.D. diss., University of Miami, 2012.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Wall, Natalie.  “Mixing in the Postcolonial Diaspora: Writing Race as fiction in the Works of Lawrence Hill, Shani Mootoo, and Danzy Senna.”  M.A. thesis, University of Calgary, 2009.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses


Shani Mootoo site at SAWNET

Shani Mootoo portrait and biographical note from CLGA National Portrait Gallery

Publisher House of Anansi Press

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada

Publisher McClelland and Stewart

Interview with Daniel Perry of the Brockton Writers Series July 3, 2013