- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Canada (July 25 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0676976484
- ISBN-13: 978-0676976489
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 20.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 440 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #525,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Perfect Pledge Paperback – Jul 25 2006
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A Globe and Mail Best Book
Finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
Finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Caribbean and Canada Region)
“The only truly serious and successful Canadian novel I have read so far this year is set entirely on the island of Trinidad and has not a single Canadian character…. For the record, [Maharaj] is a more accomplished writer than Vassanji and a livelier novelist than Mistry.”
–Phillip Marchand, Toronto Star
“A Perfect Pledge . . . will establish [Maharaj] as a major Canadian writer and literary figure of international stature. . . . A Perfect Pledge shares the comically neutral tone of Naipaul’s earlier novels, except that Maharaj’s humour is broader, the characters more hilarious in their physical and linguistic excesses. Also, unlike Naipaul, Maharaj’s mirth belies an implacable tenderness, an empathy and acceptance of human nature–a respectfulness that precludes scorn. . . . Maharaj manages to draw the reader very close to Narpat’s family. We come to see them–with all their strife and occasional violence–as oddly loving and loyal. . . . But this is just one of numerous sleights of hand Maharaj employs. In the end, we can’t remember the precise moment we stopped rolling our eyes and began wiping them.”
–The Globe and Mail
“A poignant, studiously unsentimental portrait of a man too big for his community, and of the enduring bonds between father and son. . . . What the book is, really, is pure Maharaj. When a major writer emerges, the time for comparisons ends, and the time to celebrate the arrival of a distinctive, fully formed voice and sensibility begins. So, begin.”
“[Maharaj has created a colourful universe of characters, and the writing is witty and sharp. Much like the Island of Trinidad, A Perfect Pledge is a polyglot of different styles. Part comedy, part tragedy, the book is Dickensian in scope, creates a detailed world of characters à la V.S. Naipaul and evokes the allegorical qualities of Chinua Achebe or even John Steinbeck. But it is those echoes of Don Quixote that linger the most. At the personal or political level, it would appear that vowing to fight the windmills of change can be a dangerous pledge to make.”
–The Gazette (Montreal)
“For a decade, Trinidadian-born author Rabindranath Maharaj has been treating readers to stories that remind us how colourful and cruel life can be. . . . A Perfect Pledge is a masterpiece of real-life misery, the kind that touches you and lingers for a long, long while.”
–The Vancouver Sun
“A Perfect Pledge delivers a beautifully written and beautifully sad tale.”
“Among the many things to admire about A Perfect Pledge is the author’s confidence. . . . Imagine Don Quixote staying home in Trinidad, and you’ve got something like the wandering, witty, ultimately devastating story that Rabindranath Maharaj tells in A Perfect Pledge. . . . I’d advise keeping an eye out for more from Maharaj.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“What a delicious feeling it is to read the first pages of a 400-page book and know you are in the hands of an accomplished storyteller. . . . It is impossible not to compare Rabindranath Maharaj with Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul. . . . This eminently satisfying novel has the clarity of Naipaul and some of the bite, and a great deal that is Maharaj’s own.”
–The Seattle Times
“A sprawling, colorful epic. . . . This novel’s allure comes from its comic energy and its plucky, determined characters–especially the farmer’s son, who struggles between his sense of filial duty and his desire for independence. In the end, the book . . . is charming and you have to admire its elaborate craftsmanship.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“The novel's panoramic depiction of a crumbling traditional society is a richly satisfying dish, with the charm of the exotic for readers who come from anywhere else. . . . [M]asterfully told.”
–The Boston Globe
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Rabindranath Maharaj is the author of two previous novels: The Lagahoo’s Apprentice, which was a Globe and Mail and Toronto Star notable book of the year; and Homer in Flight, which was nominated for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award; and two collections of short stories, The Book of Ifs and Buts and The Interloper, which was nominated for a Regional Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book. Rabindranath Maharaj was born in Trinidad and now lives in Ajax, Ontario.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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Readers will delight in the humorous quirks of Maharaj's characters and the vivid picture he paints of one man's struggle to be better than ordinary. More information and news about the author and his books can be found on his website at rmaharaj dot wordpress dot com.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Overburdened by insidious poverty, Narpat's wife, Dulari, borrows two-hundred dollars from her more successful brother to outfit her children properly for school and to arrange transportation for the older girls. While they are dependant on local bus transportation, Dulari waits anxiously for her daughters to return, content only when she has purchased a safe ride for them. Overruled and his authority threatened, Narpat is furious, believing the walk is beneficial, but then he expects every inconvenience to be turned into a learning experience, always ready with homilies to instruct his children on the virtues of hard work. Narpat feels his wife is acting against his wishes, as he routinely attempts to instill good habits and independence in Jeeves, Chandra, Kala and Shushilla.
Trinidad's anticipated day of independence is August 31, 1962. With all the crooked politicians in the election, Narpat runs for county councilor, his main concern that the cane farmers own the deeds to their lands. Later, building his factory is an act intrinsically out of step in island society, the degree of individuality and authority he assumes an anomaly. His philosophy too large for his world, Narpat is sure to disappoint, but it is in his nature to pursue his dream. While Narpat dedicates himself to fighting corruption and bureaucracy, his wife and children are held hostage to his ideals. Dulari is essentially powerless, her sanity preserved only by "this numbing ritual of sweeping, cooking, cleaning and washing, this silencing of my mind". Meanwhile, Narpat's life is purpose-driven; he is determined to adhere to the high moral path no matter what the cost, the children caught in the emotional underpinnings of futile arguments between their parents. As they mature, the children may question their father's dogmatic approach to existence, but the most telling exchanges are between husband and wife behind the closed door of their bedroom.
Time passes and the island changes but "progress [is] closely allied to treachery". In this landscape, village life, seemingly insignificant in the larger scope of things, is a microcosm for universal principles. The eccentric characters that people these pages, their idiomatic speech and stubbornness, portray a land in the midst of change, corruption a natural outgrowth of its evolution. The voices of Narpat, the Manager, Doon the schoolteacher, Radhica, Dulari and Jeeves fill this tale with the dreams and laments of the ages, a template for humanity, played out in all its sturm and drang. Luan Gaines/ 2005.
Readers will delight in the humorous quirks of Maharaj's characters and the vivid picture he paints of one man's struggle to be better than ordinary. More information and news about the author and his books can be found on his website, at rmaharaj dot wordpress dot com.