Rabindranath Maharaj

Rabindranath (Robin) Maharaj was born in the rural district of Tableland in South Trinidad. He received a B.A., M.A. and Diploma in Education from the University of the West Indies, Saint Augustine. In Trinidad, he worked as a teacher and as a columnist for the Trinidad Guardian.
In the early 1990s Maharaj moved to Canada and in 1993 he completed a second M.A. at the University of New Brunswick. Since 1994 he has been teaching high school in Ajax, Ont., where he continues to live. In May 1999, Maharaj was one of the founders of the literary magazine Lichen.

Fiction

Adjacentland

Hamilton, ON: Buckrider Books, 2018.
PS8576 .A42 A65 2018

Publisher’s Synopsis (from Wolsak and Wynn website)

In this disquieting new work from award-winning novelist Rabindranath Maharaj, a man awakens in a strange institution called the Compound with no memory of his past. Struggling to make sense of his surroundings, he is skeptical of the administrators who try to convince him he is mad and dangerous, and suspects he has been the subject of recurring experiments, which have caused episodes of amnesia. In dreamlike prose Maharaj weaves a story of fragments, where our narrator comes to believe that he was once a comic book writer who warned that the reliance on artificial intelligence would make the imagination obsolete and subversive. As the narrator searches for clues he may have left for himself before his memory loss, both he and the reader learn of Adjacentland, a primitive land of misfits and outsiders. It is only in Adjacentland that the imagination has survived. With a motley group of inmates from the Compound, the narrator decides to make his way there, but during the journey he discovers a terrible secret about himself and his companions.

Fiction

The Amazing Absorbing Boy

Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2010.
PS8576 .A42 A43 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Both familiar and strange, this story of a large Canadian city seen through the wide eyes of a naive and inexperienced young immigrant — wise in the culture of comic books — is both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Awards and Honours

2010 Trillium Book Award — English language (Winner)
2011 Toronto Book Awards (Winner)

Fiction (Short stories)

The Book of Ifs and Buts

Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2002.
PS8576 .A42 B66 2002

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

… these stories tell the experience of immigrants as they take up new lives, often alone, in strange lands. With passion and a discreet comic sensibility, Maharaj brings poignancy and enduring beauty to lives that
prosper, suffer, endure heartbreak and realize dreams.

Fiction

Fatboy Fall Down: A Novel

Toronto: ECW Press, 2019.
On Order

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

A child ridiculed for his weight, a son overshadowed by a favored brother, a husband who falls short of his wife’s ambitions, an old man with a broken heart… As Orbits’s life passes, he doggedly pursues a simple dream — a little place in the country where a family might thrive — while wondering if he can ever shake free of the tragedies that seem to define him.

Fatboy Fall Down is the lush and heartbreaking musings of a man trying to understand his place in the world. Though shot through with sadness, Fatboy Fall Down is also full of surprising moments of wry humor, and Rabindranath Maharaj’s deft touch underscores the resilience of the human spirit.

Fiction

Homer in Flight

Fredericton, N.B.: Goose Lane, 1997.
PS8576 .A42 H66 1997

Publisher’s Synopsis

Homer [an immigrant from Trinidad] trades a basement in Ajax for a Dixie high rise, a factory job for a position as a Hamilton school librarian. Marrying Vashti and moving into her sister’s house in Burlington, becoming a father, publishing his book — these successes should win Homer peace and security. But he craves more.

Awards and Honours

1998 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award (formerly Chapters-Books in Canada) (Nominated)

Fiction (Short stories)

The Interloper

Fredericton, N.B.: Goose Lane Editions, 1995.
PS8576 .A42 I57 1995

Awards and Honours

1995 Commonwealth Writers Prize-Best First Book-Caribbean and Canada Region (Nominated)

Fiction

The Lagahoo’s Apprentice

Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001.
PS8576 .A42 L34 2001

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Stephen Sagar returns eagerly to his native Trinidad when he is commissioned by a powerful island politician to write his biography. Expecting to discover a lost innocence, Stephen is at once disillusioned – old friends are no longer recognizable and strangers view him with indifference or hostility. To piece together his own past, he explores the lush island landscape and encounters a woman who once loved him. In her need to love again, his own longing begins to awaken and intensify.

Fiction

A Perfect Pledge

Toronto: A.A. Knopf Canada, 2005.
PS8576 .A42 P47 2005

Publisher’s Synopsis

A large novel about a small place, A Perfect Pledge takes us to village Trinidad and an irascible cane farmer who continually plots to improve life for his family and contemporaries, much to their dismay.

Awards and Honours

2006 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (Finalist)

Fiction (Short stories)

The Writer and His Wife and Other Stories

Leeds, England: Peepal Tree, 1996.
PS8576 .A42 W75 1996

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Anyone who enjoys the comedies of V.S. Naipaul will find great pleasure in Maharaj’s elegant and arresting style, but they will also find in Maharaj a profound empathy and understanding of his characters and their world. In the process, he gives a rewarding and insightful portrayal of the Indo-Trinidadian world in the late 20th century.

Anthology

Tok. Book 2

PS8237 .T6 T54 2007

Maharaj, Rabindranath. “The Call of the Mountain.” In Tok. Book 2, edited by Helen Walsh. Toronto: Zephyr Press, 2007, 169-179. [short story]

Reading Writers Reading book cover

Anthology

Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections

Z1039 .A87 R43 2006

Maharaj, Rabindranath. “What Are You Laughing At?” In Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections. Danielle Schaub, photographer and ed. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2006, 154-155.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Khan, Shoilee. “Dismantled Domestics, Loneliness, and Creative Coping in Rabindrinath Maharaj’s The Amazing Absorbing Boy,” chap. in Confluences 2: Essays on the New Canadian Literature, ed. by Nurjehan Aziz. Toronto: Mawenzi House, 2017, pp. 65-71.
PS8117 .C66 2017


Maharaj, Rabindranath. “The CNQ Interviews: 3: Rabindranath R. Maharaj,” Canadian Notes & Queries no. 76 (2009): 14-22. [Interview by mail by John Metcalf.]


Sarbadhikary, Krishna. “Expressions of a Divided Self: Rabindranath Maharaj.” In Surviving the Fracture: Writers of the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora. New Delhi: Creative Books, 2007, 164-203.
PS8089.5 .S68 S37 2007

Links

Maharaj discusses writing and the short story in READ Magazine vol. 3, issue 2

Maharaj personal website

Publisher Goose Lane

Publisher Peepal Tree Press

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada, publisher of Knopf Canada, Random House Canada, and numerous other imprints

Publisher Wolsak and Wynn, publisher of Buckrider Books and other imprints

Publisher Zephyr Press

Diaspora Dialogues Charitable Foundation

Rabindranath Maharaj on The Amazing Absorbing Boy, part of CBC Radio One’s The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers,  episode “March 8-14, 2010” first broadcast March 8, 2010