- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday Canada; First Edition edition (April 29, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385676220
- ISBN-13: 978-0385676229
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,652,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab Hardcover – Deckle Edge, International Edition
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“Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab moved me deeply. . . . A brilliant metaphor for how we reexamine and reshape stories about ourselves and others to slowly come to understanding.”
—The Toronto Star
“A writer with a generous spirit and a gift for storytelling.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Mootoo has an impeccable ear … authentic and powerful.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Mootoo writes of death and loss with an equally heartbreaking poignancy. . . an intensely moving story.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“Mootoo’s prose is vivid, poetic and passionate ….This is a writer who knows how to satisfy the reader.”
—NOW Magazine (NNNN)
“Mootoo’s sense of narrative verges on genius.”
“A masterful storyteller.”
—The Washington Post
“Moving Forward has a fascinating premise, one that emboldens Mootoo’s ongoing literary project of giving voice to sexual minorities with brown faces from hot countries. . . . They are stories that can no longer be silenced.”
—The Globe and Mail
“It is a gorgeously written novel, which leaves readers to ponder the stories we are told, how we disguise our true selves and eventually need to tell our own story.”
“Shani Mootoo’s multilayered new novel explores storytelling and traces powerful transitions between cultures and genders. . . . [it] encompasses identity, dislocation, and storytelling’s capacity to navigate grief and lapsed time.”
About the Author
Shani Mootoo is the much-loved author of the novels Cereus Blooms at Night, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; He Drown She in the Sea, which was longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award; and Valmiki’s Daughter, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Mootoo was born in Ireland and grew up in Trinidad. She immigrated to Vancouver more than thirty years ago, and now lives near Toronto.
Top customer reviews
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This is a story about storytelling. How a story is understood by and shapes both the ‘teller’ and the ‘listener’.
It is a story of unfolding layers - layers and layers of culture, ethnicity, origins, immigrant experiences and expectations, friendship, city life - island life, cold climate - tropical climate, Toronto - Trinidad, family expectations and relationships, gender, physical appearance, childhood experiences, lesbian and bisexual relationships, and storytelling.
It is a very descriptive story - of language, place, local customs, city life, emotions. I was caught up on every page with descriptions - of snow, of the walk Sid makes to the clinic, the Hindu funeral rituals, Sid’s friendship with Zain. Mesmerizing.
The story begins with a prologue of sorts - From Sydney’s Notebook; Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab by Jonathan Lewis-Adey follows and is written in 3 parts with 12 chapters.
Jonathan is born to a very independent and successful author, India Lewis-Adey. She is in a relationship at the time with artist and Trinidadian immigrant, Siddhani Mahale. ‘Sid’ in effect raises the young child (Jonathan) which leaves India time to fully concentrate on her writing career. When their relationship cools several years later, India tells Sid to leave and Sid can’t bring herself to say good-bye to young Jonathan. This begins Jonathan’s very deep feelings of abandonment.
Many years later, Jonathan begins searching for Siddhani Mahale and is puzzled when he can only locate a Mr. Sydney Mahale in Trinidad.
Sydney is indeed Sid and has undergone sex reassignment surgery. Sydney is now a female to man transsexual. Jonathan visits Sydney in Trinidad off and on for many years trying to reconnect with this very important parent figure. Jonathan is also trying to understand Sid/Sydney’s abandonment of him and his new transsexual self.
Jonathan is always the ‘listener’ and when Sydney dies, Jonathan tries to understand Sydney through Sydney’s journals and letters as the ‘teller’.
There are many strong characters in this story - Siddhani/Sydney Mahale, India Lewis-Adey, Jonathan Lewis-Adey, Zain - best friend, confidante and inner voice of Sid and later Sydney, Sydney’s staff in Trinidad, the mysterious Eric, Anta - who helps organize Sydney’s Hindu funeral.
It is a very lyrical, poetic, emotional story - rich in its settings, emotions, gender and story-telling. I can’t stop thinking about this story and its participants.
Mootoo's book about characters moving through life lacking something: a true gender, a sense of being loved, a need for attention is a thoughtful, very personal sounding contemplation told through Jonathan's memories, Sydney's journals, and Zain's letters. Their stories are interwoven into one, traveling from Canada and the told over-and-over-again story of the snowy cold day Sydney walked to the clinic to have her breasts removed, to Trinidad where Jonathan, Sydney, and the servants who work for him eat the most West Indian of food, look out over the most West Indian scenery, and live life in a very Trinidadian manner.
The novel is compelling and one becomes interested in the characters. Mootoo's first novel, CEREUS BLOOMS AT NIGHT was much more West Indian in nature, with gender being more of a subplot. Now, in this book, Mootoo's fourth, gender identity takes first place and the West Indies come in second. It is almost as though an editor said "But you've lost that West Indian feeling! Get it back!" and Mootoo obliged by adding nature scenes, descriptions of food, and adding close-up looks at Trinidadian Hindu customs.
There is much to like about MOVING FORWARD even though it is difficult to get to know Sydney (almost as if as a real-life person, Sydney would not let anyone too close), and the chief narrator, Jonathan, is not particularly likable, being a bit self-centered, feeling cheated of the years he spent without Sydney, wanting to be the son, but really wanting a mother and not the father that Sydney has become. Zain may be the most interesting character as she seems (through her letters) to say what she feels, and she gives love freely even though it may not be quite in the manner in which Sydney craves it.
Mootoo introduced some interesting plot elements that were not followed up upon thoroughly and leave the reader a bit disappointed. There is a horrific murder of a main character, yet this is never totally addressed or totally resolved, even though most readers will be waiting to hear a different ending.
For fans of Shani Mootoo, this book will not disappoint, but it will make one think: about why many move forward in life by moving "sideways," why there is so much dissatisfaction in relationships, how religion and community play into life choices, and what defines friendship. For those who are reading Mootoo for the first time, this may not be the best book to start with. Reading Mootoo's books chronologically may be helpful not only to allow a new reader to become acquainted with her style, but also so that her development as a writer can be clearly seen.