Geography of Voice

by D. McGifford,
ISBN: 0920661270

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Brief Reviews - Fiction
by Allan Casey

KRISANTHA Sri Bhaggiyadatta, Rohinton Mistry, Rana Bose - the names do not roll off Anglo-Saxon tongues. Nor does the art of our growing list of hyphenated nationalities fit easily within the familiar Canadian literary landscape mapped out, for the most part, by a much earlier generation of immigrants.

"The writers in this anthology are part of (a) new indefinable canon, and they have the freshness and energy, the fervour and commitment of youth," writes Diane McGiffard, editor of The Geography of Voice: Canadian Literature of the South Asian Diaspora (TSAR, 274 pages, $19.95 paper). This is the second in a projected series of three volumes dealing with writers who trace their ancestry to the Indian subcontinent - even if they come from Trinidad or South Africa. The volume surveys poetry, fiction, and drama. For the speaker in Rienzi Crusz's "Dark Antonyms in Paradise," home no longer exists, except as myth:

Five-star hotels now gleam in the SriLankan sun, tourists dip their bottoms in the everlasting blue... And another twelve-yearold chooses an untimely grave with ENDREX...

Rohinton Mistry's depiction of a Goan Catholic who works as a servant of rich Bombay Parsis is warm and quaintly funny - but her way of life, in the end, seems spiritually suffocating. Lakshmi Gill, in her "Letter to a Prospective Immigrant," offers a despairing Canadian weather forecast: "Joy? There is no joy. just a long, dull ache/icehot... They need an orgy, communion, sacrifice, expiation." A chilling, fictional post-mortem of the Air India crash, a play commemorating the slaying of Anthony Griffin by Montreal police, the story of a Trinidadian maid in Toronto -these tales are as close as you will get to a pulse-taking of a vast section of new Canadian writing. And it is a pulse, in a word, that races.


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